The village of Brookfield signed onto the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago’s rain barrel program in July 2015, but it didn’t take long for local residents to climb aboard the bandwagon.
Since partnering with the MWRD — which will provide up to four free rain barrels per household — the village has delivered nearly 1,200 barrels to 480 homes.
“It spread like wildfire,” said Brookfield Village Manager Keith Sbiral.
The village agreed to partner with the MWRD last year after passing its new storm water ordinance, which seeks to control flooding in Brookfield. In addition, the village has mandated that Brookfield homeowners detach their downspouts from the sewer system.
The 55-gallon rain barrels are a way to capture that storm water and either release it slowly into the ground afterward or use it to water gardens or wash their cars. At a minimum, if all of the barrels handed out by the village are being used, some 65,000 gallons of rain water is being diverted away from the sewer system.
While requests for rain barrels have slowed during the winter months, Sbiral said he expected them to pick back up in the spring.
“We expect the trend to continue in 2016 and hope to reach 800 households in the new year,” Sbiral said. “If that holds up, we will have a big percentage of all households covered.”
The rain barrel program hasn’t penetrated Riverside, which started its partnership with the MWRD in February 2015, quite as successfully as Brookfield. According to Edward Bailey, director of public works for Riverside, 154 barrels have been delivered to 72 households since the program began.
Applications for the barrels, which come in a variety of colors, are received by the village and then forwarded to MWRD, which has a vendor deliver the barrels directly to residents at no charge.