Caution | Outdoor water restrictions in effect

Stage 3 outdoor water restrictions are in effect. Learn more about how City services are impacted and what you can do during this stage.

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Capturing and using rainwater for your yard

Make every drop count: Collect and reuse rainwater

Using a rain barrel is a great way to capture and reuse rainwater in your yard, even when outdoor water restrictions are in place.

Your plants will appreciate the soft, warm water, and you will also help reduce the amount of rainwater runoff that enters our rivers and creeks untreated.

Please note: Collected rainwater is not potable, which means you shouldn't drink it. There also may be risks associated with using it on food crops. If you choose to use rainwater on your food crops, follow the precautions below.

Buy a rain barrel from Green Calgary

Green Calgary

Rain barrels cost $78 +GST each for a limited time during the spring season. Use alone or link as many together as you want with a hose kit.

Calgary's average rainfall of 5 cm per month will provide approximately 4,000 litres of water. That can fill a typical 45-gallon rain barrel 20 times.

Rain barrel orders are closed for the rest of the 2024 season. Please check back in 2025. We apologize for any inconvenience. For those still interested, Green Calgary will also have information on how to convert household items into rain barrels.

Rain barrels may also be found at local garden and home centres. We recommend calling ahead to any local garden or home centres to confirm availability.


Setting up your rain barrel

Please read the installation instructions carefully and refer to the barrel manufacturer or retailer for support. You can set up one rain barrel, or multiple rain barrels - each attached to a downspout or connected in series.

Ensure your rain barrel is on a stable and wide surface to prevent it from being pulled or knocked over. And, for safety's sake, ensure your barrel has a secure cover.

Make sure the overflow drain pipe or your downspout is set at least 1.5 metres (five feet) away from your house.

Additional resources

Seasonal rain barrel maintenance

When cold weather arrives, here are a few quick actions to keep your barrel from cracking:

  • Completely drain your barrel of water.
  • Remove and store taps and place barrel in a protected area away from strong winds.
  • Always remember to remove your diverter and reconnect your downspout.

Risks of using collected rainwater

Rain barrels collect water that runs off a large surface, such as a rooftop. Every catchment area is unique and therefore the quality of water collected by rain barrels is unpredictable and could change each time a barrel is filled.

The primary risks associated with roof-top collected rainwater are bacterial pathogens, mostly those transmitted by birds and small mammals.

The pathogens most carried by these types of animals are Campylobacter and Salmonella. These two pathogens are the most common cause of foodborne illness and have often been detected in studies looking at the water quality of rooftop collected rainwater.

If an individual chooses to use collected rainwater for food crops at their own risk extra precautions can include:

  • Use a drip irrigation system or hand water the plant roots with a watering can. This is called ‘base of plant’ watering and will help to prevent possible contamination of above-ground fruits and vegetables. 
  • Wash all fruits and vegetables to remove as much contamination as possible. 

Green Calgary’s rain barrel program is sponsored by:

rain barrel sponsors