Kensington: Going Green One Rain Barrel at a Time

In a push to get local residents more involved in the environmental state of the community, Sustainable 19125 held a rain barrel workshop in East Kensington. It was organized to get the word out about go-green projects and the benefits of being environmentally conscious.

A community-led initiative made possible by the New Kensington Community Development Corp., Sustainable 19125 is attempting to bring the community together and, in the process, make their zip code the most sustainable zip code in the city.

“It’s important to get this information out there and when people can come to workshop like this and get involved, that helps too,” said Ariel Diliberto, a community engagement volunteer and the person who ran the rain barrel workshop.

The Kensington residents who attended, a group of about 30, learned about the issues surrounding storm water and the benefits to having their own rain barrel installed come springtime. The barrels, which are all blue to signify the reusable and recycled aspect of the project, easily attach to any drain or rainspout and collect the precipitation that would otherwise run off the roof.

“The water in the barrels can be used for watering flowers and washing your porch or steps,” Diliberto said. “But don’t drink it or give it to your pets.”

For these local residents, getting a free rain barrel was as easy as signing your name.

Speakers at the workshop did explain that if people are interested in using the barrel water for vegetation they plan on eating, diverters are available to filter out many of the contaminates that come with rainwater.

The Energy Coordinating Agency and the Philadelphia Water Department are behind the installations of the barrels, which will begin in mid-April. Aaron Slater of the ECA said the idea of the original program was to purchase the barrels then hand them out, but now there are crews in four locations across Philadelphia that will be taking care of it.

“We have about eight people working full time on this,” Slater said. “Besides Kensington, we have crews in Hunting Park, Germantown, West and South Philadelphia.”

Those at workshop had the opportunity to reserve their rain barrels, which will be delivered and installed free of charge. As the project grows, which it has already, the installation crews will require more help to reach everyone interested. Slater said last year they installed 500 rain barrels, and the order for this spring is at 2,000 barrels.

“The rain barrels are obviously a smaller part of a larger project,” Slater said. “When the residents are involved with something like this, it goes a long way in solving the problems of water flow and water contamination. Clean water leads to a clean neighborhood.”