The rainwater that falls on your roof could play an important role in protecting our nation’s rivers and streams. In celebration of Earth Month (April), River Network, a nonprofit organization that supports the protection and restoration of rivers and watersheds throughout the U.S., has again teamed up with Coca-Cola to expand the National Rain Barrel Program to more than 40 locations across the country.

Now in its ninth year, the National Rain Barrel Program provides an easy way for people to reduce water consumption and pollution from storm water runoff. In addition to a grant from The Coca-Cola Foundation, Coca-Cola donates its used beverage syrup drums to be repurposed into rain barrels. The converted barrels collect rainwater that can be used for non-drinking household use.

See how Coca-Cola syrup drums are converted to rain barrels here:

Why Rain Barrels?

Rain barrels capture water that normally runs off a property. They are easy to build, install and maintain and can help homeowners conserve water while also saving on their water bill. One of the largest water uses is outdoor irrigation, such as watering grass and plants. Water captured in a rain barrel can be used to irrigate home landscapes, water lawns, wash cars and water indoor and outdoor plants.

"Rain barrels are a tangible and effective way to inspire change to preserve our water resources," explains John Radtke, water resources director for Coca-Cola North America. "Working with our local partners, we can encourage communities to save water drop by drop, barrel by barrel, and replenish a significant amount of water back into nature."

Rain barrels can make a substantial impact on water conservation. According to the EPA, a 55-gallon rain barrel can save an average of 1,300 gallons of water per year. American Rivers, a national organization that aims to protect and restore U.S. rivers and streams, estimates that 40 percent of water used by the average household is for outdoor use. A rain barrel can save most homeowners 1,300 gallons of water each year. What’s more, 1 inch of rainfall on a 1,000-square-foot roof yields more than 600 gallons of water.

Where Can You Get A Rain Barrel?

During Earth Month and into early summer, River Network and Coca-Cola will support more than 40 rain barrel workshops in 24 states: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin. The National Rain Barrel program is part of River Network’s Reduce Your Water Footprint campaign. Local organizations may apply to the program to receive free materials and support for hosting public rain barrel building workshops.

To find a rain barrel workshop near you, please visit the River Network’s campaign website: https://www.rivernetwork.org/get-involved/reduce-your-water-footprint/

“The Reduce Your Water Footprint campaign helps people understand where their water comes from and what they can do to help protect their water sources for the future,” explains River Network Director of Community Engagement Alice Srinivasan. “The environmental hazards caused by failing water infrastructure, pollution and climate change disproportionately affect low-income communities. These same communities rarely have access to the policy decisions or tools that could improve their environments, their health, and their quality of life. River Network is challenging river and watershed conservation groups to engage more low-income communities through this and other programs.”

Since 2008, Coca-Cola has donated more than 84,000 syrup drums to local charities, municipalities and schools to repurpose and install as rain barrels in their communities.

For more information Coca-Cola's water replenishment efforts please click here.

Major Rick Galeano is an active duty member of the U.S. Army assigned as a Fellow with the Training With Industry (TWI) Program with duty at The Coca-Cola Company.