ClearWater Conservancy is asking residents to start thinking about rain instead of snow.
Judging by the crowd that showed up at the Alpha Firehouse on Sunday afternoon, they didn’t have to twist anyone’s arm.
For the past 14 years, ClearWater has invited the community to seminars to learn more about managing stormwater.
“The hope for me is that they learn a little bit about sustainable practices that they can do at home,” Tim Gould, a water resources specialist with ClearWater, said.
A major tenant of that strategy involves rain barrels, commercial or homemade contraptions that collect would-be runoff and preserve it for use in the garden.
The environmentally friendly folks in attendance on Sunday were given instructions on how to build their own barrels from easy to find parts available at any hardware store.
Jane Wettstone keeps three water barrels at home — one she bought commercially and two others she crafted herself. She has been gardening “forever” and has always found the presence of readily available water to be rather crucial to the process.
One of Wettstone’s barrels has been stationed next to her garden.
“It’s really convenient to have water out there when I need it,” Wettstone said.
Her experience came in handy on Sunday as she walked ClearWater’s guests through the project they were about to embark upon in all of its many parts.
Hose. Netting. Rope.
There are only so many ways that those pieces can go together, sure, but Wettstone provided the context that kept it all in check. The netting, for instance, is to keep out mosquitoes, which she said are able to breed very efficiently in the amount of water it takes to fill a soda bottle cap.
On the other hand, the barrels waiting for the guests out in the garage could hold 55 gallons of water. All of the requisite holes had already been cut to save time.
Corey and Courtney Dickman were able to assemble their rain barrel with minimum fuss and the help of their daughter, Mary.
“We’ve been talking about possibly building or buying a rain barrel for two years now,” Courtney Dickman said.
Corey and Courtney Dickman were confident that they could now replicate the process at home without ClearWater supervision, a supplement to the lone hose they keep at the front of the house.
Courtney Dickman wanted to experiment with a variation involving a trashcan that Wettstone had demonstrated. It turns out that there’s more than one way to conserve water.
“There’s lots of different ways to build a rain barrel, but I think they got the finer points of it,” Gould said.