In Community Events, Education and Learning, Water conservation

Impacts from Project Rain Barrel’s 2018-2019 Season

This summer River Network—thanks to support from the Coca-Cola Foundation—wrapped up our 2018-2019 Project Rain Barrel season. Through programs like this, business partners and sponsors support community-based solutions for cleaner water and healthier rivers, empowering local groups to protect and conserve water in their communities. The 54 Project Rain Barrel workshops that took place between August 2018 and July 2019 connected over 2,000 local volunteers and participants with 37 organizations and communities to retrofit Coca-Cola syrup drums into rain barrel catchment systems.

We’re Coca-Cola. We know how to make beverages; we don’t necessarily know how to restore watersheds. We rely on our partners to identify those areas of need, and know what mitigation steps need to be taken to repair them.

Jon Radtke, Water Sustainability Program Director, Coca-Cola

Why rain barrels? The average American family directly consumes nearly 110,000 gallons of water each year—and that doesn’t include water used for producing food, energy, and consumer goods. When you add these indirect water uses, the number jumps to 1.9 million (yes, million) gallons annually. However, installing a rain barrel is one of the easiest ways to reduce this water footprint, with the average homeowner saving up to 1,300 gallons of water every year from a single 55-gallon barrel. Rain barrels also reduce demand for energy-intensive treated tap water, limit stormwater runoff and erosion, save water for use during droughts, and help recharge rivers and aquifers.

This season’s 37 participating organizations are spread across the network, representing 24 different states and Canadian provinces. These groups range from local utilities like Colorado Springs Utilities, to schools and universities like New Hampshire’s McLaughlin Middle School, to riverkeeper organizations and watershed groups like Georgia’s Chattahoochee Riverkeeper and Kenai Watershed Forum in Alaska, and other government groups like the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Kaylyn Palmer, Program Coordinator at Keep Brevard Beautiful in Cocoa, FL, commented “We love this program! I think it is a wonderful thing your organization is doing and I know my event worked out great and every attendee left with a beautiful rain barrel and a lot of new knowledge!”

Project Rain Barrel connected these organizations with materials, guidance, and promotion, empowering groups that might not otherwise have access to these resources to host public rain barrel-making workshops. In total, participants constructed 1,400 rain barrels from empty ingredient drums donated by 20 different Coca-Cola bottling facilities.

But these rain barrels aren’t just helping communities reduce their water footprints: upcycling the drums for their second lives as rain barrels kept 22,000 pounds of plastic from entering the waste stream. That’s equivalent to 786,000 plastic bottles. “These events are about much more than simply saving water. They help reduce manufacturing waste while creating opportunities for local water champions to connect with businesses and citizens to highlight other on-going efforts to protect and restore waterways,” said Zak Lance, River Network’s Community Engagement Manager.

Partnerships like Project Rain Barrel help national corporations reach local water champions to make meaningful impacts—and this season wasn’t the last!

We are excited to announce that the Coca-Cola Company will continue to support Project Rain Barrel this fall. This generosity will allow us to provide another 325 rain barrels to our partners.

Learn more and apply to host a workshop in your local area below and join us on the Project Rain Barrel Facebook Page to stay up to date on workshops near you!

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