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Rain barrel helps plants flourish

Staff writer

Jerry Ewing’s plants are flourishing and he contends it’s because he uses rainwater instead of city water to water them.

Ewing, lead radiological technician at St. Luke Hospital, stopped using city water for plants because of the effect he said it was having.

“I felt like the chlorination in city water wasn’t good for them,” Ewing said. “I’ve noticed my plants are responding better to the rainwater. They seem healthier.”

Marion’s water is disinfected using ozone, and further prepared for distribution with chlorine and ammonia, at safe levels, utilities supervisor Marty Fredrickson said.

But the real drawback of city water is something else.

“City water may slow down plant growth if people water with it,” Fredrickson said. “There is not as much nitrogen in it as there is in rainwater and well water.”

Ewing collects rainwater in a decorative barrel that sits next to his garage in his backyard.

“It’s got a Kansas scene with a barn and waterfall painted on it,” he said. “It collects rainwater off the roof of the garage that I use to water the garden and plants on our porch.”

When it rains, water rushes down the garage roof, into a gutter, down a pipe, through a filter, and into Ewing’s 55-gallon barrel.

“It’s amazing how fast only a quarter or half inch of rain will fill it up,” he said. “All I have to do is clean out the filter periodically. There is also a little hose on it that I can use to fill up other buckets if I get overflow.”

Surprised at how long his barrel water lasted, Ewing said its reserves almost ran out before a shower June 15 filled it. His barrel has a thick exterior that helps keep water cool on hot days, so it is less damaging to plants.

Ewing hasn’t kept track of how much water he has saved using his barrel, but he believes it is important to conserve

“You’d be amazed how much water you can get out of an air conditioner,” he said. “Last summer, I was getting about five gallons a day.”

Last modified June 23, 2016

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