After implementing its first rain barrel program this spring, Jefferson City sold out of barrels this month.
The city sold 132 rain barrels since starting the program in March.
The Jefferson City Public Works and Jefferson City Parks, Recreation and Forestry departments partnered with Rain Water Solutions, based in Raleigh, North Carolina, to supply 99 rain barrels to residents at a discounted rate of $49 but opened the program for non-Jefferson City residents to purchase barrels for $69.
When the city sold out of the 99 barrels at the discounted resident price, residents and non-residents could continue purchasing barrels at $69 until the city capped it at 132 rain barrels.
"It was successful in my eyes," said Amy Schroeder, community relations manager for the Jefferson City Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department. "I think people are coming around to wanting to do what they can, not only from an economics standpoint — if they could help lower the cost of a water bill — but I think people are becoming more environmentally conscious."
The normal retail price for the 50-gallon barrels is $115, according to Rain Water Solutions' website.
Rain barrels could be used to collect rain water for gardening, car washes or environmental quality educational purposes.
Rain Water Solutions took a wait list of those interested in the program after the city sold out of barrels, Schroeder said. She added the city may do the program in the future, along with other possible programs like a composting station, if there is enough interest.
Those interested in being on the wait list can fill out a form at rainwatersolutions.com/products/jcmo.
The city established the program in mid-March after the Jefferson City Environmental Quality Commission and city staff first discussed it in December as a way to increase awareness of local stormwater issues. Stormwater issues have been an underlying issue in Jefferson City for several years but came to the forefront after flooding in August 2016.
Rain barrels educate homeowners about how much rain water is coming off their roofs, Rain Water Solutions owners Mike and Lynn Ruck said, noting a 1,000-square-foot roof with 1 inch of rain is equivalent to 600 gallons.
"A rain barrel makes a perfect tool to show someone how, if you take this rain barrel and hook it up to your home's downspout, people are always amazed at how much water is coming off the roof," Mike Ruck said. "If you don't have a rain barrel there, that water is just going to shoot down the street and go into local streams, carrying with it the same pollutants of stormwater."
Rain Water Solutions works with about 35 agencies around the country, from municipalities to nonprofits, the Rucks said. It's common for municipalities to sell out of rain barrels, but community interest is key, they noted.
"It's all about timing, how involved people are, how much people really care, and I think this is a testament that Jefferson City residents are really concerned about this and are excited about a rain barrel program," Mike Ruck said.