Before attending this year’s Jackson County Fair, Kaula Meadors of Brownstown didn’t know much about a rain barrel.
She said her stepfather had been talking about wanting one, so when she went by the Seymour Water Pollution Control Facility’s booth and saw they were giving one away, she made sure to register. That involved answering a 10-question survey and dropping it in a box.
Meadors said she was surprised when she recently received a call from Char Ison, an MS4 stormwater system foreman at the facility, letting her know that she had won the 40-gallon rain barrel.
“I don’t really ever win anything,” she said.
Story continues below gallery
This was the stormwater utility’s first time setting up an educational booth at the fair.
A small demonstration house was constructed to show water runoff during a rain event. That helped to visually educate people on how water flowing off of roofs, driveways, parking lots, streets and other hard surfaces can pick up contaminants and other sources of pollution, which end up in rivers and streams.
Meadors said the rain barrel demonstration caught her eye.
“It’s a good thing. It gets a lot of information out there, too,” she said. “More people know about it now that it has been out there.”
Ison said more than 300 people filled out a survey, which gauged what the public knows about stormwater.
“I know everyone likes to get something free, but they don’t realize they are taking a little bit of knowledge with them and passing it on, and that’s what we need,” he said.
He said staff members are in the process of reviewing the surveys.
“It seems like everyone has some very general knowledge, but we want to take that to the next step,” he said. “It’s getting knowledge out there and educating everybody on the benefits and the kinds of stormwater, if it’s beneficial and what you can do to help everybody out.”
Ison said rain barrels have been around for a while. Their purpose is to collect water off of a roof that’s coming down a downspout.
“It just conserves the water it stores so it can be used at a later time, whether it be to water your lawn or garden or your flowers, anything like that,” Ison said.
“You can reuse that water at a later time instead of paying for water.”
Using a rain barrel prevents items such as leaves and grass clippings from going through the storm drains and ending up in streams or rivers, where it would suck oxygen out and be bad for aquatic life, Ison said. It also keeps runoff from carrying fertilizer or pesticides into waterways.
Rain barrels can be purchased during the spring and summer at stores that carry lawn and garden products. Ison said they typically cost between $60 and $200. Some higher-end ones have a spot on top to plant flowers.
“It can take all of the water from the roof or you can buy one that takes 60 percent of the water and lets 40 percent continue to run out or take 80 percent, that kind of thing,” Ison said. “It doesn’t have to take all of the water. There are options.”
The Seymour Water Pollution Control Facility has several rain barrels along the front of its building at 5716 E. County Road 525N.
Ison said the water collected is used to water flowers and landscaping.
“You think about 40 gallons, that’s quite a bit of water,” he said. “That’s a good two or three weeks of water in your flowers or your garden, so you just save on that cost.”
The facility plans to have a booth set up at the Seymour Oktoberfest, which runs Oct. 1 through 3 in the downtown area.
It also is planning a couple of other projects.
One involves purchasing rain barrels and having members of the Boys and Girls Club of Seymour paint and decorate them.
“Then, they will put them up for auction,” Ison said. “When they sell those, the Boys and Girls Club will pay us back for the barrels, and they keep the profit of it so they can keep a program running and help support them. It helps us by educating, too.”
Ison said they also hope to start an adopt-a-ditch program with some local organizations, which would take care of and clean a ditch in the city.
“It’s going to keep fees down for the citizens at the same time,” he said.
Seymour’s Water Pollution Control Facility offers tours.
For information, call 812-522-5351 between 7 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The facility is at 5716 E. County Road 525N.