Record Flooding & Drought – How Rain Barrels Can Help

After the fourth driest summer in 2022, and the fourth wettest summer in 2021, the summer of 2023 was the second-wettest on record in Boston, with 20 inches of rain in three months. And heavy rains seem to be coming more often. When it rains too much in a matter of hours, Massachusetts towns and cities are struggling to handle all of the water.

This past summer, many communities reported several inches of rain within just a few hours. On August 8, more than 6 inches of rain fell on parts of Massachusetts. Drivers were stranded in their cars. There were hundreds of no swimming days at our beaches this summer. Heavy rains sent bacteria-laden stormwater into the ocean.  By October 2, there had been only 5 rain-free weekends since Memorial Day.

Northeast storms have brought at least 1.5 inches of heavy rain in a day and are expected to surge in the coming decades.

“This is the world we now live in. Every day we see weather that we haven’t seen before. Things are happening that people haven’t dealt with before.”

-Gov Maura Healy



Using rain barrels is one of the ways homeowners can help alleviate some of the negative impacts caused by flooding and drought on a local level. A rain barrel can collect the runoff from roofs and gutters, preventing the rain from making its way to impervious surfaces, which often end up in local streams, rivers, pond, lakes and marine waters. Keeping and using rain water on your property helps reduce pollution and erosion, and it improves local watershed health.

A 500 square foot roof can fill a properly installed 50-gallon rain barrel in about one hour. A modest amount of rainfall can supply much or all of the outdoor watering needs – a full rain barrel will water a 200-square-foot garden.



During severe drought, rain barrels can provide an additional source of water. Rain barrels have the ability to save the average homeowner 1300 gallons of water annually. Using the rain barrel’s stored water around the landscape saves water resources and reduces the amount of water purchased from municipal sources.

Rain water is “soft,” or free from minerals and chemicals such as chlorine, fluoride, and calcium often present in municipal water. Rainwater is considered ideal for watering plants or washing windows.



To find out more about the barrels and to participate in The Great American Rain Barrel Program, please visit: and select your town. Barrels are offered for $89 (the barrels typically retail for $114). Deadline for purchase is June 16th, Midnight.


Barrels will be available for Pick Up on Saturday, June 29th from 9:00 – 11:00 am at the Sudbury DPW, 275 Old Lancaster Road, Sudbury, MA 01776.


About the Great American Rain Barrel

The Great American Rain Barrel is a local food-import company that has been repurposing shipping drums into Rain Barrels since 1988. The Great American Rain Barrel Co. has been an approved vendor by the MASS DEP since 2010.



If you have questions about the Great American Rain Barrel Company, please contact Suzanne Gebelein at If you have questions about Sudbury’s rain barrel program, need assistance signing up, or want to learn of other water conservation strategies, please contact Sudbury Sustainability Coordinator, Dani Marini-King, at