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Rain Barrels Help Prevent Runoff Pollution

Simple Solution Keeps Polluted Water From Ocean

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The city of San Diego is looking at several methods to reduce storm water pollution that fouls beaches and bays. One method is to capture rain in barrels.

The city of San Diego is looking at several methods to reduce storm water pollution that fouls beaches and bays. One method is to capture rain in barrels.

It seems simple enough. Instead of letting rain run through downspouts to the storm drains, capture it and use it.

The city of San Diego placed 24 barrels at eight different locations to test the theory.

"The rain barrel system not only conserved water, but it was also effective at improving water quality by redirecting water away from the hardscape and directing it to landscaping where it can infiltrate into the ground," said Clem Brown, a senior planner with San Diego's storm water department.

Brown said a lot of roofing materials have high concentrations of metal, bacteria and other toxic material. When rain runs off a roof, it carries the pollution with it.

He said the storm drain system is separate from the sewer system in San Diego - meaning the pollution runs directly into the ocean where it can harm wildlife, cause beach closures and hurt the ocean ecosystem.

Brown said the rain barrel project is one of several strategies the department is studying to reduce runoff pollution.

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