RiverSmart Rain Barrel Program

The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, in partnership with the District of Columbia Department of Energy & Environment (DOEE), is offering rain barrel installations to qualifying District homeowners in single-family homes or small (less than four-unit) multi-family properties. The program simply requires that homeowners, after having signed up and received an audit from DOEE, supply a small, one-time copayment. Then the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay will assign each homeowner with an installation contractor, set up the scheduling, and provide the necessary materials.

Why Use Rain Barrels?

A Rain Barrel is a barrel which captures and stores the rainwater running off a roof. Rain barrels require little maintenance and are a fantastic way to save money while conserving water. Through the capture and storage of rooftop rainwater runoff, the collected water can be used immediately or over time for a multitude of purposes including irrigation, landscaping, car washing, and even fountains. The simple act of collecting rainwater helps residents take part in decreasing stormwater runoff, recharging the groundwater, conserving freshwater, and improving local waterways.

Rain barrels connect to roof downspouts and should be placed in an easily accessible location near a garden or lawn. The barrel should also be elevated on a stand so gravity can generate pressure to lead the water down the hose.

Benefits Of Rain Barrels

Rain Barrels have many benefits and uses including:

  • Saving money on water bills
  • Conserving freshwater
  • Decreasing stormwater runoff and erosion
  • Helping our local waterways, and thus the Chesapeake Bay
  • Enhancing stormwater runoff awareness

Rebate Program

Homeowners may purchase any rain barrel as long as it meets the required criteria found on page 2 of the 2020 Applicant Guide. Once a rain barrel is purchased and installed, homeowners can apply for a rebate by submitting the Application Packet to the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay. After the rebate application has been received, reviewed, and approved by the Alliance, the homeowner will receive a reimbursement of $2 per gallon. There is a rebate maximum of $1000 per household, and the rebates may not exceed the price of the rain barrel (excluding tax and shipping). Thus, a 50 gallon rain barrel would yield a $100 rebate after installation. In comparison, a $75 barrel, at 50 gallons, would yield a $75 rebate.

If you need assistance in finding a barrel, check out pages 4 and 5 of the Homeowner Guide. You can also contact Annie’s Ace Hardware about their rebate-approved barrels offered online and in their Brookland and Petworth locations.

The Rebate Process:

  • Download and review the application materials and the homeowner guide:
  • Assess the property (yourself or with a contractor) to determine the best location, volume, and type of barrel.  For a list of recommended contractors, contact the Alliance.
  • Take photos of the designated rain barrel location before installing the barrel.
  • Purchase a barrel that meets the criteria outlined on page 2 of the Homeowner Guide.
  • Install the rain barrel DIY (do-it-yourself ) or hire a contractor to help with the installation.
  • Take photos of the final barrel installation, making sure all the required rain barrel criteria can be seen in the photos.
  • Submit your rebate application form with all required materials:
  • Application form (one per barrel)
  • Rain barrel purchase receipt
  • Before photos
  • After photos
  • Maintenance Agreement, hand-signed (p.2 of application form)
  • RiverSmart Rewards sign-up sheet (p.3 of application form)

Grant Program

DC homeowners in single family homes or duplex apartments are able to apply for the RiverSmart Homes rain barrel grant through the District Department of Energy & Environment (DOEE). DOEE provides incentives for homeowners looking to reduce stormwater runoff from their property. Reduced price rain barrel installations are included as one of these incentives and as a best management practice for homes looking to reduce their stormwater runoff. Homeowners simply pay a one-time copay of $50-$70 and the program will cover the rest of the installation cost and process. Each home is assigned a contractor who will install the barrel at the homeowner’s request. Installing a barrel through the RiverSmart Homes grant program provides environmental, health, and monetary benefits to your home and the District. Reducing stormwater runoff is also imperative in order to reduce combined sewer overflows, as District infrastructure was built before modern stormwater management methods were developed.

The Grant Process:

  • Contact the RiverSmart Homes Program and schedule an audit
  • After your audit, you auditor will let you know if you qualify for a rain barrel. If you do, ask your auditor to add your name to the Rain Barrel list. If you do not qualify, ask your auditor if a rain barrel rebate is possible.
  • Once your name is reached on the waitlist, an Alliance RiverSmart team member will contact you to confirm the installation plan and schedule an installation.
  • Your assigned rain barrel installer will complete the barrel installation on the scheduled date.


Still have questions, check out the frequently asked questions document: RiverSmart Homes Rain Barrel Program FAQs (.pdf)

If you have questions about maintenance, check out this flyer for more information on Basic Barrel Maintenance.

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Erin O’Grady DC Programs Manager, DC Office

Erin is based in the DC Office and serves as the DC Programs Manager. She manages the RiverSmart Rain Barrel Program and other initiatives in the DC region.

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