The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is giving away rain barrels to reduce stormwater runoff and conserve water. The 60-gallon green containers are available at scheduled events this summer coordinated by local elected officials and partner agencies. The Rain Barrel Giveaway Program began as a pilot program in 2008 with the distribution of rain barrels to 250 homeowners in the Jamaica Bay watershed. The program has expanded over the years, and in 2015, gave away more than 5,000 rain barrels to homeowners, schools and community gardens in all five boroughs.

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“Using a rain barrel to capture excess storm water can not only cut down your water bill, but also protect our waterways from excess stormwater,” Councilwoman Debi Rose (D-North Shore) told the Staten Island Advance newspaper before holding a rain barrel giveaway at Snug Harbor Botanical Garden in Livingston on Saturday. “I’m happy to make these available to my constituents at least once a year, and I encourage my constituents to take advantage of this free opportunity.”

Related: 8 water-saving solutions for your home

Rain barrels work by connecting to a gutter, capturing and storing stormwater that falls on the rooftop. The water collected can be used to water gardens and lawns. Rain barrels help stop stormwater pollution from getting into the sewer system, reducing combined sewer overflows into local waterways.

DEP is investing $2.4 billion in green infrastructure projects as part of the city’s Green Infrastructure Plan, with the goal to significantly reduce combined sewer overflows by 2030. DEP is also investing $1.5 billion in an initiative to ensure clean, safe and reliable drinking water for city residents.

Via NYC.gov

+ NYC Department of Environmental Protection

Images via NYC Water