It's going to be practically raining rain barrels in Clintonville.

It's going to be practically raining rain barrels in Clintonville.

On top of a recently announced pilot project to place 250 rain barrels at 137 households in an area bounded by Tibet, East Tulane and Crestview roads, as well as a few blocks of Indianola Avenue, another program soon will offer deeply discounted rain barrels to city residents who attend a workshop.

Instead of the $60 to $70 it costs to purchase a commercially made rain barrel, residents attending the session can receive one for $30, said Heather Dean, watershed coordinator for the Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed.

The nonprofit, grassroots organization dedicated to protecting the river and its tributaries is administering the pilot rain barrel project. FLOW also puts on the workshops that enable people to receive the discounted rain barrels.

"In the past that program has been very popular, and they have filled up very quickly," Dean said.

The workshops probably will begin the first week of March. Those interested in being on the list of participants may call the office of FLOW at 267-3386 or send an e-mail to hdean@olentangywatershed.org.

The pilot project is the result of an idea FLOW officials have long had to determine the benefits of a concentration of rain barrels in a specific area, according to Dean. Meetings about it have been going on for at least nine months, and it will soon become reality as a result of a partnership between FLOW, the city of Columbus and Greif, a worldwide packing company based in nearby Delaware.

Columbus City Council passed an ordinance approving $9,700 for the rain barrel project, in which the Department of Public Works will provide the barrels to residents in the area east of Indianola.

The barrels are being given to the city for free by Greif.

Rain barrels offer two benefits, one to the environment and one to the homeowner, Dean said.

On the environmental side, rainwater runs from rooftops into gutters and through downspouts, picking up dirt, lawn chemicals and other things that shouldn't end up in rivers, Dean said.

The runoff often ends up, directly or indirectly, in sewer lines as well as stormwater drains. In especially heavy downpours, both the stormwater and sanitary sewer lines can become overwhelmed, resulting in untreated sewage finding its way to the river.

Enough rain barrels in a targeted area, it is hoped, will serve to significantly reduce the amount of water from a heavy rain that makes its way into the sewers, eliminating or reducing overflows.

"We're really looking at it as more of a simple, low-tech method to solve that problem," Dean said.

Just a few rain barrels would accomplish little, she added, which is why the 250 are going to 137 properties in an area prone to sewer overflows. Some will receive multiple rain barrels.

Residents save on water bills by capturing rainwater for use in watering lawns and flowerbeds, Dean said.

Within the next few weeks, she will be contacting leaders in the neighborhood of the pilot project to hold meetings with residents and arrange for delivery of the rain barrels.

The residents will have to install the rain barrels, Dean said, but "they're not really that hard to install."

Dean hopes to have the 250 rain barrels at the homes by mid- to late March.

Churches, schools or small businesses are being sought as candidates for these rain-garden projects. Once the locations are chosen, Dean said that a lot of volunteer help is required for the installation, but those who participate can probably learn what it would take to create a rain garden at their own homes or properties.