CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- If you notice more than a dozen brightly painted barrels along the sidewalks of Washington Street in the East End the next few weeks, Lee Ann Grogg's done her job well.
Grogg, who works with the city's stormwater management program, is trying to promote a series of four rain-barrel workshops. The first is scheduled for April 21 at the East End Bazaar.
"Part of my job, as required by the EPA, is outreach and public education," Grogg said. "You can't change anything until you know."
Several years ago, the city signed an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to try to cut water pollution by reducing the amount of rain runoff that enters the rivers.
The problem is especially bad in Charleston, which has several combined storm and sanitary sewers. In heavy storms, raw sewage flows directly into the Kanawha.
Homeowners can do their part by diverting rainwater collected from their gutters into a rain barrel, instead of letting it run out on their lawn or into a sewer. During dry weather, they can use the saved water in their gardens.
Grogg, along with Tomi Bergstrom of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, decided to teach folks how to make rain barrels.
For $40, you can learn how to make your own rain barrel and get all the materials -- a 55-gallon plastic barrel, a spigot and other connections -- at the two-hour workshop. To register, email tomi.m.bergst...@wv.gov or call her at 304-926-0499, Ext. 1098.
The system collects water through a small hole in one of downspouts, Grogg said. "We're using a new connection where you don't have to cut your gutter. You make a small incision.
"We'll put a spigot on the bottom. You can attach a hose or fill up a watering can."
The heavy plastic barrels are recycled, she said. "A lot of them had soap in them, and some were used to ship pickles. They need to be taken down and put away for the winter."