Published: Oct 20, 2011 10:27 PM EDT
Updated: Oct 20, 2011 11:11 PM EDT

LEE COUNTY, Fla. -- Some southwest Floridians are happy about our recent downpour of rain. They're saving that water in large barrels. It's a process called rain harvesting, and it's saving people money.

"Rainwater is a great substitute," said Thomas Becker, with the Florida Yards & Neighborhood Program.

That rainwater can be caught as is drips off your roof, using a large plastic recycled barrel.

It's saving homeowners money one raindrop at a time.

"Some people are saving money by using this type of water, rainwater, instead of portable water," said Becker.

A rainfall of only .3 inches will fill the barrel.
For every inch of rain on 500 square feet of roof, you collect about 300 gallons of water.

A barrel can hold up to 55 gallons of water, that's about 650 pounds.

"One of the benefits, we have an extended dry season, and that period of time is - when we want to be conserving water and we want to be conserving fresh water," said Becker. 

That water can then be used as irrigation or for washing tools. For the first time, Lee County teachers are using the barrels as education about water conservation.

"It fits very well with the school board's new policy on energy and resource conservation. that policy was just put in place over the last month," said educator Rick Tully.

"They're keeping the water on their own property, they're improving their neighborhood's water quality because less polluted water ends up coming off their property," said Becker.

The Lee County Extension of Master Gardeners teaches a Rain Barrel Workshop.

The cost is $45.00, which covers the cost of a rain barrel you can take home.

For more information, contact Becker at (239) 533-7515 or visit the Lee County Extension website at