The Lexington Countywide Stormwater Consortium conducted its popular “Build Your Own Rain Barrel Workshop” on Friday, May 26th . This workshop is held twice a year, during Public Works Week in May and again in the fall. A maximum of 25 rain barrels can be made at each workshop, and classes fill up fast especially since Lexington County now has a Public Information Officer, Harrison Cahill, to assist in getting the word out about them on social media as well as through his many other media contacts. In addition flyers are posted at all of the branches of the Lexington County libraries, and other County services that are frequented by the public. The municipalities within the County that comprise the Consortium (Lexington, Springdale, West Columbia, Cayce, Irmo, Pine Ridge and South Congaree) join in by posting announcements about the rain barrel workshop on their websites, newsletters and through email. Before we knew it, Tina Blum (Lexington Soil and Water Conservation District) who takes care of the registration for the class informed us that it was full and a waiting list for the next workshop was made.
The workshop ran from 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. at the Fire Services training room. In just three hours, workshop attendees received a Stormwater 101 presentation from Sheri Armstrong, Stormwater Manager, to familiarize them with the environmental impact of pollutants that are transferred by stormwater to our waterways and the best management practices they can easily utilize in their daily lives to reduce this impact. Next they learned about the benefit of rain barrels and cisterns in rain harvesting and how to maximize the amount of rain they can harvest by linking rain barrels together and/or including a beautiful and hardy rain garden in their landscapes. Lastly they were taught how to make a rain barrel out of a 55 gallon barrel previously used to hold pickles. This type of food-grade barrel is the most environmentally friendly type of barrel to use especially to collect water to irrigate a vegetable garden.
After the class, the makers have the most fun at the workshop at the garages of Public Works, next door to Fire Services, to make their rain barrels. With help from Consortium members and educational partners, they used tools and hardware to put together a completed rain barrel. Barrels such as this are commercially sold for $70.00 to $100.00. When workshop attendees who have attended in the past come back to make another rain barrel, they tell us that these are sturdier, and the cost of $25.00 to cover supplies to make the barrel as well as snacks and water is a bargain. The camaraderie and awareness of other ways in which they can daily help reduce pollutants in our waterways adds up to a win-win situation where strangers become friends in a shared interest that benefits the community.