Make a Dent in the Drought With Style


One on One with Eileen Keighley
By Gina Dostler

Founder and owner Eileen Keighley of Cool Water Barrels decided to elevate the status of collecting water in Southern California to designer level with the availability of contemporary award-winning European made rain barrels. Living in Europe where conserving water in beautiful containers is the norm, Keighley is very familiar with rain barrels or “water butts” as they call them and has opened the door to saving water in Southern California instead of just reducing it’s use.

Q: Why is this time of year the best to buy water barrels?
A: Due to the drought we’ve had to reduce our water usage by planting waterwise landscapes, artificial grass or creating bigger patio spaces. But there is a shift in thinking and now we are moving into the next phase of saving water when it rains for later use to help with conserving water. El Nino is here, giving us more rainfall and a very good reason to find ways to capture the water. Collecting and re-using the rainwater also minimizes the flow of water run-off into storm drains, sewer systems and local waterways.

Q: Do you think it’s worth saving the little rainfall we seem to be getting even with El Nino?
A: It’s not as little as you think. There are statistics from the water company that show a 2,000 square foot roof sheds about 1,250 gallons of water from just one inch of rain. This provides a massive opportunity to save water and put a dent in the amount of drinking water used for landscape irrigation, which accounts for about 70% of a home’s total water usage per year. The rain barrels attach to the roof’s drainpipe and are a perfect way to catch the rain. Plants and microbes that benefit the soil prefer rainwater because it is free of chlorine, fluoride and other chemicals.

Q: What are your barrels made of?
A: The five-foot 92 gallon barrels are made of plastic for durability and weigh only 33 pounds making them easy to move and clean. Imagine how heavy a stone one would become when filled with that much water! The fact that they are really large makes them very impressive. A regular hose can be attached to the barrels to use the water; or a ¾-inch designer chrome tap that is sold separately can be added.

Q: Are designers and architects using them?
A: Absolutely. The biggest selling point is the decorative appeal of the barrels and each has an integrated plant holder to finish off the look with a favorite water resistant plant. It’s important how we design our gardens, not only to increase the value of the home, but for comfort and beauty. Putting plain regular water barrels in the yards is not what OC is all about. It’s all about style. And now unique contemporary stylish rain barrels are available. They cannot be bought anywhere else in the U.S.

Q: Decorative aside, what is their quality compared to other rain barrels?
A: There are many grades of plastic as there are styles when it comes to rain barrels. But our barrels are made from a high grade plastic that is 100% recyclable. It comes with a five-year manufacturer’s guarantee and are UV stable so will not fade in the sun. Our product is produced by the award winning manufacturer Graf, which has made water-harvesting products for over 30 years.

Q: What happens if there is more rain than fits in the barrel?
A: Our barrels have a specially designed connector to the down pipe that stops excess water overflowing from the barrel and diverts it back through the down pipe.

Q: If the water isn’t used for awhile, does it become unusable?
A: There are pollutants in the air that can affect the quality of the rainwater and you can use products to clear up any algae and destroy germs including viruses, bacteria, fungus and water-borne diseases. These can be purchased from pool product suppliers. We also recommend cleaning the barrel periodically. The water is not for drinking.

Q: Standing water is the perfect place for mosquito larvae to grow. How can you avoid that?
A: It really depends on how often the water is used in the barrel. It is totally enclosed and sealed, nothing is open. If the water does stay unused for quite awhile, we recommend using one of the many sterilizing tablets on the market such as Mosquito Dunk or Mosquito Pellets if you want to be sure to keep it void of larvae.

Q: Does it get filled with plant debris?
A: That depends if you have a lot of leaves around your garden or on your roof that might go into the downpipe. If you feel that this can happen, then we recommend putting a filter onto the downpipe of your house to catch the debris. These are easily bought at Home Depot, Amazon or your local hardware store.

Q: How much are they and are there rebates available?
A: Our barrels run $645 each and that includes the connector that easily attaches the barrel to your down-pipe. We currently store them in a warehouse where you can pick-up or have delivered. Yes on rebates and currently The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s SoCal Water$mart Rebate Program has a $75 rebate for rain barrels, up to four per household.

Eileen Keighley
Cool Water Barrels
#346 30100 Town Center Drive,
Laguna Niguel, CA 92677
1 855 RAIN 229