Too much rainwater? Learn to harvest it

Tampa Bay-area Extension Offices offer rain barrel classes.
Published Sept. 30, 2019

This time of year, June through November, Tampa Bay residents receive a large amount of rainfall. With an average annual rainfall of approximately 50 inches, each household could save more than 31,000 gallons a year with sufficient rainwater storage capacity.

Did you know that one inch of rain on a 1,000 square foot roof will yield 623 gallons of water?

Most University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences county Extension offices offer rainwater harvesting workshops, and there is an Extension office in each of our 67 counties.

Lynn Barber, Florida-Friendly Landscaping agent for the University of Florida Extension, Hillsborough County
Lynn Barber, Florida-Friendly Landscaping agent for the University of Florida Extension, Hillsborough County [ University of Florida Extension ]

At these workshops, residents learn about the benefits of capturing rainwater, which include reducing potable water use in the landscape, erosion and stormwater runoff. These reductions are environmentally and financially impactful.

By using rainwater, a free resource, we are not using potable water, for which we pay.

Erosion removes soil from our landscapes, which can end up in the storm drain.

And stormwater runoff picks up materials such as fertilizer, pet waste, pesticides, grass clippings, gasoline and more. These pollutants end up in the storm drain, traveling to lakes, rivers, streams and ultimately into Tampa Bay. This results in algae blooms, fish kills and red tide.

At rainwater harvesting workshops, attendees learn how to create their own rain barrels, set up a barrel in an ideal location and create a stable platform to support the rain barrel. The platform is important, because a full 55-gallon barrel can weigh more than 450 pounds.

Attendees also learn to install an overflow device, how to connect multiple rain barrels and the maintenance needed, including mosquito control.

Instructors will talk about how to paint rain barrels, if you are so inclined, and how to use lanai screening over the top of the barrel to discourage mosquito larvae and other critters. Harvested rainwater can be used on ornamental plants but not on edibles.

Rain barrel
Rain barrel [ University of Florida Extension ]

After the workshop, each household generally receives a rain barrel to take home. Counties may differ in the cost involved, but all I have seen are quite reasonable.

In Hillsborough County, you may want to attend all three of our workshops, one Saturday a month from February through November: composting, micro-irrigation and rainwater harvesting. Pre-registration is required. Check out our website: We hope to see you at our upcoming workshops on Oct. 5 or Nov. 9.

Keep up with Tampa Bay’s top headlines

Keep up with Tampa Bay’s top headlines

Subscribe to our free DayStarter newsletter

We’ll deliver the latest news and information you need to know every morning.

You’re all signed up!

Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.

Explore all your options

Lynn Barber is the Florida-Friendly Landscaping agent for the Hillsborough County Extension at 5339 County Road 579 in Seffner. Contact her at, or 813-744-5519, Ext. 54105.

Tampa Bay Extension contacts

Hernando County: or 352-754-4433

Hillsborough County: or 813-744-5519

Pasco County: or 352-518-0156

Pinellas County: or 727-582-2100