In a previous post I calculated some optimum efficicencies for rain barrels in sizes of 55 gallons and 110 gallons in support of my feeling that I don't really care for rain barrels. After I had calculated their efficiencies I still wasn't convinced they were a good idea. Today I had the opportunity to ask a garden professional about rain storage and rain barrels when I attended an Ocean Friendly Gardens Hands On Workshop. More on the HOW later, since I know you are all so interested in this garden professional's opinion on rain barrels.
She said, "Rain barrels are the gateway drug to an ocean friendly garden", as near as I can recall. Just as I already knew, just as I already calculated, and just as the workshop today taught, soil is the preferred method of water catchment. But for those who live in blissful ignorance of their impact on downstream flow, rainbarrels raise awareness in an effective way. The rain barrel owners get engaged and that engagement leads to even more effective changes on their properties. Oh, and if you have a vegetable garden or some area that needs a bit more water like fruit trees then by all means use a rain barrel if it meets your space and aesthetic requirements, They do after all provide soft water for free (ignoring the initial costs). But don't look to even a couple 55 gallon barrels as your primary line of defense in a water wise garden.
That was the gist of the insight that I received today, which was well worth the price of admission (several hours of my time plus I learned a few other things). Ahhh...Finally, a rational thought on rain barrels. Given all the hype, I was losing hope that it was out there, but was.