Rain Barrels | www.charlescountymd.gov


Charles County, Maryland

Rain Barrels

Rain Barrels

***New Rain Barrel Workshop Opportunity***

What is a rain barrel?

A rain barrel is a small-scale conservation practice that collects and stores rooftop water runoff for future use to irrigate lawns, gardens and other non-potable water uses.   By capturing water from downspouts that would otherwise discharge onto a paved surface, rain barrels can reduce the amount of runoff and pollutants reaching local streams and waterways.

Why should I use them?

It is estimated that during summer months, nearly 40% of household water use is for lawn and garden watering.  Using a rain barrel may save the average household up to 1300 gallons of water a year! 

What are the benefits?

The average rainfall, of 1 inch within 24 hours, can produce more than 700 gallons of water that runs off a house rooftop.  Stormwater runoff picks up anything on the ground such as litter, fertilizer, pet waste, motor oil and transports it directly into your waterways. 

Using a rain barrel reduces stormwater runoff pollution because you are collecting stormwater and allowing it to slowly soak into the ground when you use it for irrigation, rather than drain quickly into waterways.  Drinking water resources are also conserved since less potable (tap) water is used for irrigation purposes, which can lower your water bill, or reduce water pumped from a well system.  

Using rain barrels is a great way to decrease your household’s impacts on local waterways, reduce tap water use, and qualify you for a Watershed Protection and Restoration Fee credit on your property tax bill.

More Rain Barrels = Annual credit on your property tax bill!

Installing two rain barrels on your home, totaling 110 gallons or more (55 gallons ea.), qualifies you for a 50% credit on your Watershed Protection and Restoration Fee (WPRF).  You’ll find the WPRF itemized on your property tax bill, as an annual fee for the purposes of protecting and restoring the waterways in Charles County.  

Properly installed rain barrels capture rainwater and prevent it from carrying harmful sediment erosion and pollutants from impervious surfaces into our waterways.  Rain barrels can be purchased at local home and garden centers, hardware stores and many online retailers.

To apply for the credit print and fill out the following form then mail the form and documentation to:

Planning & Growth Management
200 Baltimore Street
La Plata, MD 20646
Attn: Planning Division 

or call the Charles County Planning Division at 301-645-0540 to have a paper copy mailed to your address.

Watershed Protection & Restoration Program Stormwater Remediation Fee Credit Application

If approved, the credit is good for three years and will show up on your property tax bill as WPRC.  At the end of the three years, if the rain barrels are still operating correctly, you may reapply for another three years of credit.

Tips for using Rain Barrels:

  • Make sure overflow valve is directed away from structures
  • Disconnect rain barrel during winter months to avoid damaging ice
  • Clean your roof and gutters at least once a year to minimize debris

Mosquitoes breed in stagnant, standing water.  As little as a teaspoon or bottle cap of water standing for more than a week can create a breeding ground for eggs to develop into adult mosquitoes.   If maintained properly, rain barrels should not promote mosquito breeding. 

Tips to prevent mosquito breeding in Rain Barrels:

  • Keep lid and connections secure to prevent mosquitoes from entering barrels.
  • Use debris screens to filter the water entering the barrel, and use the collected water within a week.
  • If water is not used or drained within a week, a larvacide should be used for mosquito control.

Once installed, go online to register your rain barrels using the UMD Extension’s SMART Tool

For more information:

Contact the Charles County Watershed Protection and Restoration Program at 301-396-5237