New York City distributes 7,600 free rain barrels to residents

Dec. 6, 2023
The city’s Department of Environmental Protection hosted over 100 free rain barrel giveaway events in the summer of 2023, providing 60-gallon rain barrels to capture stormwater, alleviate flooding and prevent sewer backups.

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced that it had helped to host more than 100 free rain barrel giveaway events this summer, distributing 7,622 rain barrels to New York City citizens.

The 60-gallon rain barrels are easy to install and connect directly to a property’s gutter or downspout to capture and store stormwater that falls on the rooftop. The water collected in the rain barrel reduces the amount of stormwater that enters the city’s sewer system, helping to alleviate flooding and sewer backups while also protecting the health of local waterways by lessening combined sewer overflows.

Additionally, by storing rainwater and using it for outdoor chores, like watering a lawn or garden or washing a car, homeowners also reduce water consumption and save on water bills.

“Collecting stormwater that falls on a home’s roof eases pressure on the city’s sewer system, which, in turn, reduces localized street flooding and sewer backups, and improves the health of our waterways,” said DEP Commissioner Rohit T. Aggarwala. “Rain barrels also reduce water consumption needs during warmer months, which helps homeowners save money while practicing conservation and promoting sustainability.”

Rain barrels are just one tool that DEP is utilizing to help homeowners prepare for severe rainfall events. The agency continues to partner with elected officials to hold flood kit distribution events and information sessions around the city, supplying inflatable flood barriers, sump pumps and flood sensors.

The information and tools provided at these events empower residents and business owners to protect their properties from the damaging effects of extreme weather. Rainfall Ready NYC outlines the shared responsibilities New Yorkers and city government can do to combat intense storms, together, today. DEP has also produced a homeowner’s guide with tips on how homeowners can better protect their properties.

“New Yorkers embody unique productivity, skillfully leveraging tools to simplify their daily lives,” said Council Member Robert Holden. “It's an honor to team up with the DEP annually for rain barrel giveaways, enabling constituents to collect and repurpose stormwater wisely, all while lightening the load on our sewer system and championing water conservation.”

Each spring, DEP partners with elected officials to organize rain barrel distribution events in neighborhoods throughout the city. Each homeowner who obtains a free rain barrel through the giveaway program receives an installation kit and instructions. Installation of rain barrels is easy and they require little maintenance.

DEP said that the rain barrels should only be used for non-potable (non-drinking) purposes, such as gardening, and must be disconnected from the downspout during the winter months to avoid freezing.