Tools for Preventing Pollution

Stormwater is Impairing Berks County Streams…

Rainwater and melting snow runs over lawns, parking lots, and farm fields, through city streets and forests, picking up and carrying pollutants into our streams, rivers, and oceans.  Typically, we can see  this “stormwater” flow off our driveways or down our streets during a rain storm. Stormwater that flows over roads, parking lots, roofs, and driveways cannot absorb in the ground as it normally would. Pollution that stormwater flows may carry include, litter, fertilizers, nutrients, pet waste, cinders and fine sediments, salt/deicing material, and vehicle fluids. When these types of pollutants reach nearby streams they can harm stream life, make water bodies unsafe for swimming/fishing, and alter the stream’s physical characteristics.

Because this polluted water runoff comes from many diverse sources and not from a single point (such as a pipe or an industry), it is called “nonpoint source pollution”

How Can I Make a Difference?

Water pollution affects everyone and everything. Many of today’s water quality problems are caused by activities on the land.  By becoming aware of how our actions affect the environment, we can help reduce pollution. The first step to cleaner and healthier streams is knowing the watershed you live in.  Visit the BCCD’s Watershed’s Page for more information on our local streams!

Below are links to some easy, everyday things you can do that will make a big difference:

In My Community
In My Backyard
In My Home

The Berks County Conservation District is offering hand-made crafted

 rain barrels!

Berks County Conservation District Rain Barrel

 Each rain barrel is a 55 Gallon Plastic Drum with a spigot, overflow valve, and inlet. (Please note: that the barrel lid does not open. All sales are final. No refunds.

The proceeds of each Rain Barrel sold supports our Student Scholarship Program!

Order your Rain Barrel Here!

Are you a school program looking for the Paint the Rain Contest? Click Here!

What are Rain Barrels?

Rain Barrels are a rainwater collection system that stores rooftop runoff that can be used for irrigating gardens and lawns, and conserves water!

Benefits of Rain Barrels:

  • Reduces roof runoff
  • Conserves water use
  • Reduces pollutants from entering streams
  • Clean water for gardens, lawns, washing cars, etc.!


Like most things around your home, your rain barrel needs a little regular attention to keep working smoothly. Here are some tips to keep your rain barrel in the best shape possible:

  • Clean your gutters regularly to reduce debris from falling into the rain barrel
  • Don’t let rainwater sit in your barrel longer than a month if smell is a concern to you or if you start accumulating algae. You can also put a cap of baking soda (depending on the type of vegetation you are caring for) into the water, that small amount should not hurt the plants.
  • If you have trouble getting the water to come out, remember to keep the hose attachment area clear. Remove the water hose and use a wooden or metal skewer or ice pick to clear out any debris. You can also try adding cheesecloth on top of the screen to act as an additional filter.
  • If your rain barrel springs a small leak, most can be repaired with aquarium caulk, a clear sealant available at most hardware stores.
  • Fine mesh screen should be used to cover any openings in the rain barrel to prevent mosquitoes and to trap debris.
  • Rain barrels can be installed upon blocks/bricks to provide height for gravity flow purposes. (Be sure that the barrel is on a secure, level foundation and that the blocks can withstand the weight of the barrel when full.)
  • When using the overflow valve, make sure water drains away from structures and does not flow onto pavement, sidewalks, or neighboring properties.
  • Ice can damage rain barrels. During the winter months, open the spigot at the bottom of the rain barrel so that water is allowed to flow out of the barrel and avoids forming ice. A better option is to disconnect the barrel from the downspout (and replace the original downspout until spring).
  • Keep openings covered with a fine-mesh screen to prevent mosquito breeding; You can also use “mosquito dunks” or vegetable oil to prohibit mosquito populations.


  • Residence
  • Business
  • School
  • Anywhere there is a rain leader from a roof!

Take Note:

  • Water from barrel should NEVER be used for drinking, cooking, or bathing!

Helpful Info about Rain Barrels:

General Info Brochure on Rain Barrels and nonpoint source water pollution

Thinking of making your own rain barrel?  Try these instructions!

How many rain barrels do you need?  You will be surprised at how much water drains off or our roofs.  This helpful calculator helps you determine how much water you will capture. 


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