With ample snow on the ground in many parts of the US that may or may not be disappearing in the near future (I’m in Seattle at the moment and the best mode of transport appears to be cross-country skiing) many of us are bracing for a big wet mess when temps eventually climb above freezing.
Big wet messes are a boon for those with rainwater harvesting systems given that rain (and melted snow) is the key component for this sustainable form of water management. Although the Seattle area isn't exactly lacking in precipitation, this recent blast of white stuff might be more be appreciated by rainwater harvesters living in dryer climates (hello, Las Vegas).
For novices likely to use collected rainwater for gardening purposes, setting up a rain barrel is probably the best bet -- I’m a fan of this whisky barrel made from recycled PE plastic available over at Clean Air Gardening. For pointers on how to maximize money, energy, and water savings with a rain barrel, check out Rain Barrel Source or this video found over at Metacafe. Or, I'll paint a soggy picture with some statistics: For every 1,000 feet of catchment area (the total square footage of your roof and the extension of your eaves), rain barrels can collect around 600 gallons of water per every inch of rain that falls. Now think about all that water you won't have to use from your municipal water system or well (and the subsequent bills you won't have to pay). It's not too shabby, especially when melted snow plays a part in the runoff.
Don't think the snow is going anywhere soon but just in case, I'm off to slide on down Seattle’s newest makeshift ski slope, Denny Way. Any creative ideas on household objects that I can recycle into a sled? I'm thinking a greased up IKEA cookie sheet may do the trick....
Photo: Matt (taken in the alley behind my parents' house. It's not their barrel but a neighbors; I hope her water-sensitive ways rub off on my non-rain-barrel-using folks).