CONSERVATION… Our Purpose. Our Passion.

What is a Rain Barrel?

A rain barrel is a catchment system designed to store rain water running off a roof, usually attached to a downspout.

Benefits of using a rain barrel:

  • Help lower water costs. A rain barrel can save an average of 600 gallons of water during peak summer months.
  • Store rain water for garden and lawn use.
  • Reduce roof top runoff to storm sewers.
  • Provide oxygenated, un-chlorinated water for plants.
  • Easy to build and install.

Parts and tools


  • 1 Plastic Barrel, food grade


  • 1 Atrium Grate (6”)
  • 1 Filter Sock

Outlet and Overflow:

  • 1 Spigot 3/4”
  • 1 Metal washer (1” I.D.)
  • 1 Rubber Washer (1” I.D.)
  • 1 3/4” Metal Nut
  • 1 Plastic elbow hose adapter 1 1/4”
  • 1 Plastic Female adapter 1 1/4”
  • 1 Metal Hose clamp 1 1/2”
  • Drain Hose 1 1/4” (sump pump)


  • 1 Primer-paint
  • 1 Tube silicone


  • Safety glasses
  • Jig-saw or rotary saw
  • Drill
  • Spade Bits
  • Pipe wrenches


Barrel: Large “food grade” plastic barrels work best. Avoid barrels that have previously contained chemicals, as this could contaminate the stored water.

Inlet: Using a rotary saw or jig saw cut a hole on the top of the barrel slightly smaller than the widest part of the atrium grate. Put the filter sock on the atrium grate to prevent mosquitoes from getting into the barrel. All other openings should be plugged.

Outlet and overflow: With the drill, make holes for the spigot and overflow adapter. Remember to make the orifice just large enough to get the parts in place. The hole for the overflow should be low enough on the barrel to prevent water from collecting in the atrium grates when the barrel is full.

Secure the spigot to the bottom of the barrel with the washer and nut from the inside. To avoid leaks use silicone to make a tight seal. Secure the overflow hose with the elbow adapter, female adapter.


Place the Rain Barrel under or near a downspout along the house. The barrel should be on level ground and on a stable surface, A full barrel of water can weigh over 450 pounds. Divert the downspout to drain into the barrel to collect the runoff. This can be done by using a flexible attachment for diverting water flow. Connect a garden hose or soaker hose to the bottom of the barrel to water the lawn or garden as needed.

About this publication:

Issued July 2008
Reference: Rain Barrels; Cass County Soil Conservation Districts & Natural Resources Conservation Service
Pictures: Lori Clark, Urban Conservationist Cass County SCD; Emily Bonilla, Soil Conservationist, NRCS Bismarck FO

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