Be Sewer Smart: How to Keep Lawns Green (and Save On Your Sewage Bill, Too!)

EORWA reveals how homeowners can use rainwater to reduce their monthly bills

One of the largest costs for any water utility is water treatment. As citizens use more water, the cost to make that water drinkable again rises. While general water conservation is an important way to keep those costs low, there is another tactic area homeowners could take advantage of to reduce their monthly bills – and it involves their rainwater.

Each year, the Eastern Ohio Region receives more than 526 million gallons of rainwater in its system through downspouts – roughly 40% of the utility’s annual flow. A downspout is the system of gutters and pipes that leads rainwater from a home’s roof to the home’s driveway, front yard, storm sewer or combined sewer. By allowing their downspouts to essentially throw their rainwater away, homeowners are losing a free resource they could potentially save to water their lawns (saving money on their water bills each month) and increasing the load on the city’s sewer and treatment system (resulting in a higher monthly wastewater bill). That means homeowners who use traditional downspout systems are spending more money than they need to on water – and causing their sewer bills to rise over time. So, how do homeowners take advantage of this valuable resources that literally falls from the skies? In this article, we’ll briefly detail two of the most popular alternatives to traditional downspouts: rain barrels and downspout disconnection/diversion.

Rain Barrels

Rain barrels are perhaps one of the simplest and most cost-effective solutions to rainfall management. Homeowners simply cut the downspout at the appropriate height and then stick a barrel underneath the spout. As the rain goes through the downspout, it collects in the barrel for future use. Most rain barrels have a spout at the bottom so that the rainwater can be easily accessed.

Rain barrels are excellent options for irrigational water storage, and can be fabricated or purchased fairly inexpensively. It is important to make sure that any rain barrels put on your property are mosquito-proofed and have a safe overflow area. There’s no point in buying a rain barrel just to have the overflow rainwater wind up back in the sewer!

By utilizing rain barrels, homeowners can take the water they get on their property and save it for a, well, a not rainy day. This reduces their water bills by giving them a resource to use to water their lawns without having to rely on city water.

Downspout Disconnection/Diversion

Homeowners who want to avoid increasing the amount of stormwater in our sewer system without having to store large amounts of water on their property could still benefit from downspout disconnection and stormwater diversion. With this method, homeowners keep the downspouts on their homes mostly intact – until the pipe gets about a foot off the ground. There, the homeowner installs a curved pipe that diverts the stormwater away from the city sewage system and towards a more natural destination; a garden, yard, or other natural land on the property.

Attribution: Joe Mabel

By diverting the stormwater to a place it can be reabsorbed into the earth or plant life without having it pick up harmful chemicals as it trickles down driveways and streets before going into storm drains, homeowners are able to use rainwater to improve the look of their yards and prevent polluted water from hitting city sewers – all without having to store rain barrels on their property. Whether you choose rain barrels or diversion, disconnecting your downspout from the sewer is a smart, simple home improvement project that will save you money – and help save the planet. For a detailed guide on how to disconnect your downspout on your own, click here.

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