North Raleigh News

Wake Forest selling rain barrels in effort to promote water conservation

In an effort to promote water conservation and help residents lower their utility bills, the town is reminding residents they can buy barrels that collect rainwater.

Wake Forest residents can buy a 65-gallon rainwater barrel for $90 from the town. The price includes everything residents need to set up a working rain barrel.

Rain barrels collect runoff from outdoor gutter systems. A quarter-inch of rainfall can create enough runoff to fill the entire barrel, said Mike Barton, Wake Forest’s director of public works and utilities.

Water from rain barrels can be used for most things people use garden hoses for, including to water flowers and wash cars, Barton said. The water is not safe for cooking, bathing or drinking.

Rain barrels can cut down on residents’ water bills and help promote the town’s efforts to be greener.

“We try to promote conservation,” Barton said. “This is all in conjunction with it.”

Raleigh provides water to Wake Forest and some other towns. During a severe drought in 2007, Raleigh issued mandatory water restrictions to conserve water.

Wake Forest began selling rain barrels in March 2008 to help residents collect water for outdoor uses, said town spokesman Bill Crabtree.

“We viewed the rain barrels as a great way to conserve water,” he said in an email.

Since 2008, the town has sold 961 rain barrels, Crabtree said. The town also set up its own rain barrels to help with conservation.

At the Public Works Center, the town has five rain barrels for town’s brine machine and street sweeper. The town also has a barrel at Joyner Park that is used to water trees in the nursery, Crabtree said.

After the drought subsided, the town’s sales of rain barrel tapered off, Barton said.

Raleigh does not sell rain barrels, but some other Wake County towns sell them, including Apex, Zebulon and Morrisville.

Although Wake Forest continues to promote water conservation, there is no shortage of water in Wake County, said Robert Massengill, Raleigh’s public utilities director.

About 3.75 inches of rain has fallen at Raleigh-Durham International Airport this month, according to the National Weather Service. The average rainfall in June in the area is about 2 inches.

The area’s main water sources – Falls Lake, Lake Wheeler and Lake Benson – are all at normal levels, Massengill said.

He said Raleigh mostly focuses on water conservation in times of little rainfall.

“We promote efficiency and conservation,” he said. “We really want to save our conservation efforts for situations like in a drought when we need customers to scale back their water usage.”

Hankerson: 919-829-4802;

Twitter: @mechelleh

Find out more

Wake Forest is selling rain barrels for $90 each. To find out more about how to purchase a barrel, go to or contact Betty Pearce at 919-435-9570 or