Rain Barrel Initiative

Rain barrel Pittsburgh PA
Rain Barrel decorated Pittsburgh PA

Rain Barrel Initiative

It is, perhaps, the project that put Nine Mile Run Watershed Association on the map.

For years, if you asked someone in the watershed if they knew of our organization, they would likely refer to us as the “rain barrel people.” This is because with funding from two grants from the Richard King Mellon Foundation, plus a DEP Growing Greener grant, we were able to install 1,500 rain barrels on homes in the watershed with the purpose of improving water quality in Nine Mile Run by reducing stormwater entering the sewer system. Homeowners were offered free or very low-cost barrels in exchange for attending workshops and learning more about how the watershed ecosystem extends into people’s backyards. We designed our own high-capacity barrel (133 gallons) to maximize effectiveness.

This widespread downspout disconnect program was one of the most expansive in the whole country at the time, and pioneered the use of alternative methods for managing stormwater in Pittsburgh. It was an excellent way for us to meet our neighbors and engage hundreds of new watershed stewards. Today, most of these barrels are still functioning; many have been turned over to new homeowners when houses sell and exchange hands. We are proud of our roots and have strong recognition in the watershed because of this initiative.