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Rain Check: How to get FREE Rain Barrels through Philly Water
Philly

Rain Check: How to get FREE Rain Barrels through Philly Water

People can be a little like squirrels: when cold weather creeps in, we pack up the summer clothes, cover up the garden beds, bring the flower pots inside and tuck away our ambitions for all sorts of warm-weather projects.

Here at the Philadelphia Water Department, we’re encouraging you to do the opposite. Don’t think of winter as a time of hibernation, but as a great time to start those spring greening projects.

Each year, hundreds of residents use our Rain Check program to get free rain barrels or discounts on bigger sustainability projects like rain gardens, downspout planter gardens, permeable patios and driveway depaving.

But, true to our habits, most people get the itch to do these green upgrades when the weather is nice in the spring and summer. We get it: you’re more likely to think of a rain barrel as your flowers struggle through the July heat than when you’re snuggled up on the couch for a Netflix binge in January.

Today, we want to let Green Philly readers in on a (not so well kept) secret: attending a Rain Check workshop now, when it’s cold, is the best way to get a jump on that spring greening project you pushed to the back of your mind when the frost hit.

Signing up for one of eight upcoming Rain Check workshops will help you beat the spring rush and avoid longer wait times during the busy warmer months.

In addition to making your home more beautiful and sustainable, Rain Check improvements help reduce the amount of rainwater that pours into our sewers during storms, often causing overflows that dump a mix of polluted stormwater and sewage into our waterways.

While these at-home projects are much smaller than the green infrastructure systems we’re building through the Green City, Clean Waters program, they really add up to keep pollution out of our waterways.

To encourage these projects, we chip in funds—up to $2,000 per property—and will connect you with experienced local contractors. Even if you rent, you can get a free rain barrel or a beautiful downspout planter for just $100 through Rain Check—it’s as easy as taking a workshop and getting your landlord to give the OK.

Even better – we’re offering two extra giveaways to residents who sign up for a winter workshop (the required first step no matter what project you’re taking on):

Monthly Wrapped Rain Barrel Raffle: In January and February, we’ll give away a specially wrapped rain barrel to a randomly selected participant. Just attend one of our monthly workshops and your name will be in the raffle. Winners can choose from three designs created by Philadelphia student artists and the Mural Arts Program. wrapped barrel raffle

Refer a Friend for Flower Show Tickets: Already participated in Rain Check? Get a friend, family member, coworker—heck, get your bartender—to come to a Rain Check workshop by February 20 and you’ll have a chance to win two tickets to this year’s Philadelphia Flower Show. Scheduled for March 11-19, this year’s show will highlight the rich horticultural offerings of Holland, and tickets at the door go for $35. You and a guest could get in for free: just spread the word about Rain Check and tell people to give your name when they RSVP for their workshop. Participants must attend the workshop.

Saving with Rain Check

Since the program’s start in June 2012, Rain Check participants have saved:

  • $38,869 on depaving projects
  • $171,832 on permeable pavers
  • $88,438 on rain gardens

Over 3,500 residents have received free rain barrels and installation services, and more than 230 people used Rain Check to install garden planters connected to their downspouts at a cost of just $100.

Check out some photos of Rain Check projects on Flickr to get ideas for your home!

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Julie Hancher
Julie Hancher is Editor-in-Chief of Green Philly, sharing her expertise of all things sustainable in the city of brotherly love. She enjoys long walks in the park with local beer and greening her travels, cooking & cat, Sir Floofus Drake. View all posts by Julie Hancher

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