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Richmond Hill Garden Club rolls out the barrels for water
Richmond Hill Garden Club members Betty Binion, left, and Susan Carter work together to finish their rain barrels during a recent workshop. - photo by Photo provided.

The raindrops in the local area now have a new place to fall and to be used to improve the gardens of homes across Bryan County, thanks to the rain barrel workshop held recently in Richmond Hill.

The event, sponsored by the Richmond Hill Garden Club, was a success as participants from as far away as Brunswick took part in building their own rain barrels.

The workshop, conducted by Kelly O’Rourke and Suzanne VanParreren from the Georgia Coastal Management Program and the Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve (SINERR), is part of the Coca-Cola Company’s recycled rain-barrel program. Coca-Cola donates used syrup-drum containers to select watershed conservation groups and other partners to convert them into rain barrels. SINERR provides the kits, parts and tools needed to construct the rain barrel. Participants need only bring a drill.

“This is the fourth workshop we have held this year, and we are finding that the events are selling out quickly,” O’Rourke said. “We plan to continue hosting workshops as long as the interest is there, and we can continue to work with Coca-Cola to receive the barrels. They have been a great partner in the process.”

The morning began with a presentation on the benefits of using rain barrels, which include conserving water, reducing runoff and saving money, as well as providing healthy water for your garden and yard.

“Once you realize that the average household uses 146,000 gallons per year and a large portion, about 50 percent of that water, is used for the landscaping around your house, you see the wisdom in recapturing rainwater through rain barrels,” said VanParreren.

“Using rain barrels to capture and conserve the water coming off your rooftops can save you about $200 per year,” she added That is a huge savings, and worth the effort in building a rain barrel, especially when you realize the process is not that difficult. Not only that, but a full rain barrel captures enough to water a 200-square-foot garden. Those two facts alone make rain barrel construction and usage a “game-changing” activity.

Lisa Noetzel, a romance language professor at the College of Coastal Georgia, agreed. She and her colleague Cecilia Mameli drove up from Brunswick and said it was worth the trip.

“We are rain barrel warriors,” Noetzel said. “I missed the workshop held in Brunswick earlier this year, and there was no way I was going to miss this one. I think everyone should own a rain barrel, especially with the ongoing drought in Georgia.”

“I think the workshop was absolutely awesome,” Mameli added. “I, too, think that more people should learn about rain barrels. It was a great morning.”

Richmond Hill Garden Club member and workshop attendee Norma Royals said, “I was intimidated at first about building the barrel, but it was easier than I thought it would be.”

O’Rourke said there will be more opportunities to build rain barrels in Brunswick.

“We intend to hold future workshops in Brunswick at the Georgia DNR’s Coastal Resources Division as well as in Meridian at the Sapelo Island NERR Visitor Center,” O’Rourke said.

“We hope to expand the program even further by partnering with other companies, and in the future offer those interested a website where they can reserve a barrel in an upcoming shipment and then pick up their barrel in Brunswick,” she said.

For more information, visit www.coastalgadnr.or/dm/green or

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