Can you guess how many gallons of water may run off your roof with a 1-inch of rain? Believe it or not, from a 40-by-20-foot roof you can collect up to 500 gallons of water!

Water is reused for non-potable uses, such as toilet flushing and vehicle washing. The water collected can either be indoors or outdoors and above, at or even below grade. The reuse of collected stormwater runoff reduces the volume of stormwater runoff transported ton downstream facilities.

If you want to conserve water or even lower water costs, a rain barrel is just one step in promoting environmental conservation practices of wastewater management. A rain barrel collects and stores rainwater from your rooftop to use later for things like lawn and garden watering. A barrel will save water for use outdoors during peak summer months, and it will save paying a higher water bill or using your well and electricity.

Eligible Components

  • Excavation
  • Grading of pad
  • Installation (placement,
  • Connection and stabilization)
  • Collection system (reasonable gutters/downspouts)
  • Pretreatment devices
  • Cistern
  • Stone/concrete for pad/bedding
  • Overflow piping
  • Elevated platform

Cost Share and/or Tax Credit Rates

  • Applicants, including any entity or member of the same household, will be limited to $50,000.00 in cost share
  • Permit fees are not an eligible component cost for any practice and therefore cannot receive cost-share
  • For specific amounts, contact the district office


  • Cisterns must be at least 250 gallons
  • All practices detaining and/or infiltrating runoff must be sized to treat a 1-inch rainfall volume
  • Water use plans shall outline the anticipated year-round water demand
    • Indoor usage shall include the flow rate of each fixture and appliance connected to the system and its anticipated weekly use in gallons
    • Irrigation rates vary by crops, typically 0.67 gallons should be applied per square foot per week
  • Placement:
    • Below ground cisterns must be installed below the frost depth (typically 2 feet)
    • Above ground cisterns must have a stable foundation
  • The cistern must have appropriate pretreatment measures to prevent debris from clogging the system or reducing the volume of storage

Pretreatment Before Use:

Leaf Screens: mesh screens that separate leaves and other debris from the stormwater runoff.

First Flush Diverters: devices that direct stormwater generated at the start of a precipitation event away from a cistern.

  • Rainwater tends to wash smaller contaminants that have built up on the rooftop surface into the cistern; these contaminants may include dust, pollen, other airborne pollutants and animal feces

Roof Washers: devices placed just before the inflow into the cistern.

  • Consist of a storage device that allows for some settling, as well as fine screens over the outlet; intended to treat the fine particulates in runoff

Make-Your-Own Rain Barrel Workshop

Headwaters SWCD will be working with the City of Staunton to offer our re-scheduled Rain Barrel Workshop in the Spring of 2023! If interested, please contact the office for more information.

Rain barrels are becoming popular and can even be constructed by oneself. Rain barrels can range in size and the material of which it is made of: visit the EPA’s page Soak Up the Rain: Rain Barrels and click on the video “How Can I Make A Rain Barrel?” to learn how!

Contact the District Office to learn more!