Hempstead rain barrel program kicks off


The Town of Hempstead is taking a progressive approach to combatting water conservation issues on Long Island. Supervisor Don Clavin, joined by colleagues in government, as well as Frank Piccininni and Marshall Brown of the Long Island Conservancy, announced its plan to launch a new rain barrel program last week at the Norman J. Levy Park and Preserve in Merrick.

The initiative includes the installation of rain barrels in several town parks, including Levy Park, Baldwin Park, Echo Park, the Merrick Golf Course, Rath Park, Speno Park and Veterans Memorial Park. Hempstead residents can also purchase rain barrels at a discounted rate, making it easier for homeowners to contribute to the town’s water conservation efforts.

Overall, the program aims to promote water conservation and educate residents on the benefits of rainwater harvesting.

“It’s an initiative where you’re going to be able to collect rain in your house, utilize it to water your lawn, your flowerbeds, and save money — and at the end of the day, you’re doing the right thing for the environment.” Clavin told reporters at a news conference on May 17.

While the last several weeks — even months — have been exceedingly rainy, Clavin said, that doesn’t mean a drought won’t happen during the summertime. Just last year, there was a nationwide drought, where in some areas, people weren’t even allowed to water their lawns.

Town of Hempstead residents can place an order for a rain barrel no later that May 30 online at Hempstead.ComposterSale.com. They’ll receive a 55-gallon rain barrel, which must be picked up at the Four Towns Fireman Training Center between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. on June 1 and 2. The training facility is just minutes away from Levy Park, at 1640 Merrick Road, Merrick.

Barrels cost $65, Clavin said, and through other retailers, barrels can cost upwards of $100.

“Residents want to reinvest in the environment,” Clavin said. “They want to do their part, and by teaming up with them and giving these out at a discounted price, you’re seeing that end result.”

If anyone has concerns as to how rain barrels work, Clavin said they can visit any park in the Town of Hempstead where they’re already in use.

“Ask a staff member, and we’ll show you how simple it is,” he said.

The rain barrels, which resemble an average-sized garbage can, collect water through a filtered opening on the top. To use the water supply, a hose is hooked up at the bottom where there’s a small opening. All one has to do is turn the spicket of the hose, hold it in a downright position, and then utilize the supply that comes out to water their plants, flowers, grass and more.

Piccininni of the Long Island Conservancy, which raises awareness for the environmental issues that impact communities, said the rain barrels also help combat nitrogen pollution, which causes major issues in the island’s bays.

“Our atmosphere is something like 78 percent nitrogen,” he said, “and when it’s dry, and especially when it’s raining, the nitrogen is just falling out of the sky, ending up in our storm drains and our waterways. The (Town of Hempstead) is taking an incredible step providing these rain barrels, because the nitrogen is going to kind of just stick on site in the rain barrels, and not get washed away downstream.”

“It’s an investment in our environment and our community,” Clavin said, “and really, that’s what it’s all about. These are just good, great initiatives that team up with people with a passion for the environment, with good government that wants to help the environment. There’s always solution.”