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Contact Information:

 

James City Service Authority

119 Tewning Rd.
Williamsburg, VA 23188

Directions - Directory


P: 757-259-5416
F: 757-229-2463

 

"Let's be Water Smart" is a public/private water management initiative of the James City Service Authority. The goal of Let's be Water Smart is to promote responsible water usage in James City County, Virginia. For more information or to become a Water Smart partner, contact JCSA at 119 Tewning Rd., Williamsburg, VA 23188-2639

 

Hours of Operation

 

8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Monday-Friday

 

 

jcsa
@jamescitycountyva.gov

 

Rain Barrel and Cistern Rebate FAQs

 

What is a rain barrel?

A rain barrel collects and stores rainwater from your roof so it can be used during periods of limited rainfall to:

  • water your lawn, garden, or indoor plants,
  • wash your car, boat, dog, or muddy shoes; and,
  • fill your birdbaths.

Features - A rain barrel has an opening in the top to allow water from your downspout; a screened lid to keep out mosquitoes, leaves, and debris; an overflow hose to direct excess water away from the house’s foundation; and often has a spigot to attach a hose to your rain barrel.

What is a rain cistern?

A rain cistern is just like a rain barrel only it is larger, can be above or below ground, and is primarily for watering your landscaping. It may also be used indoors for flushing toilets and washing machines. Drinking rainwater is possible when water treatment products are incorporated into the system.

What are some benefits of rain barrels & cisterns?

Reducing Municipal Water Demand - Using rainwater for landscaping and household needs frees up municipal water for necessities such as firefighting during the peak summer months, when reserves are low. Reducing our demand during peak months mitigates the need to add water infrastructure such as wells and storage tanks, which may increase rates for consumers.

Reducing Stormwater Runoff - As land is developed for homes and businesses, more land is covered by impervious surfaces such as parking lots, driveways, and buildings, so rainwater cannot slowly percolate into the soil and instead rushes into our waterways. Rainwater harvesting diverts stormwater which would carry pollution and debris such as pet waste, motor oil, fertilizer and pesticide runoff, litter, and sediment into our lakes and streams. This pollution, and the enormous volume of stormwater that is swiftly propelled into our waterways after storm events, can increase flooding, erode streambeds, damage stream and lake life, and increase fecal coliform bacteria levels. This makes our waterways unsuitable for work and play. Rainwater harvesting is the first step to healthy streams, lakes, and rivers.

Although stormwater is meant to route entirely to our storm system, some can find its way into our sewers. This can lead to waste water backups in our homes and businesses after heavy storms. By using rainwater harvesting, we can reduce stormwater flow into our wastewater system and keep wastewater backup out of our homes.

Increasing Groundwater Recharge - Instead of becoming an issue for stormwater management, rainwater can be used to water your lawn and garden, and then slowly percolates into the soil where it recharges our precious groundwater supply. James City Service Authority’s water supply comes from groundwater, and our supply is slowly shrinking. Rainwater harvesting is part of the solution.
 
Happier Plants - Rainwater is better for your plants than tap water because it lacks chlorine and fluoride. Naturally soft and mildly acidic, rainwater helps plants grow and absorb important minerals from the soil.

Ease & Flexibility - Rain barrels are inexpensive and easy to build and install. As water storage needs change, rain barrels can be easily added and linked.

Promoting a Conscientious Culture - One of the best reasons to start harvesting rainwater is that you will spread the culture of rainwater collection and in turn help your larger community and the environment.

What are some things I’ll need to consider before installing a rain barrel or cistern?

Landscaping & Washing Needs - Most rain barrels hold about 50 gallons and can be strung end to end. Rain cisterns typically hold 1,000 to 5,000 gallons. To qualify for our cistern rebate, your cistern must hold 1,000 gallons or more. To estimate your landscape water needs, subtract your winter water from your summer water usage.

Water Catchment Potential - One inch of rain on 1,000 horizontal square feet of roof yields 600 gallons of rainwater. James City County averages 47 inches of precipitation per year. That means 28,200 gallons of rainwater fall on the same roof over the course of a year. Increase storage capacity by using rain barrels in series or a rain cistern. The greater your storage capacity, the better your yard can weather a dry spell.

Cost - Finished rain barrels run $80 to $190 for 50-65 gallons of storage. Constructing a rain barrel yourself should cost only $15 to $40. Typically, a dollar per gallon of storage is the rule of thumb for pricing larger rain cisterns. A rain cistern can cost $700 to $10,000 depending on whether installation is included.

Space - If you are installing a rain barrel, check that you have room near your downspout. Your rain barrel will need a flat, stable surface to sit upon. Cisterns are large and require careful planning around your home or office. They do not need to be located adjacent to the building since piping and pumps will convey the rainwater.
 
Care - Use rain barrel water within a week or two to discourage algal growth. Hose out your rain barrel twice each summer to remove debris. Keep a screen on your rain barrels to prevent mosquitoes from breeding. If mosquitoes remain a problem, mosquito dunks can effectively, safely, and inexpensively kill larvae. Rain barrels will need to be brought inside during the winter. Algal growth should not be a problem in the case of a rain cistern because no light should enter. Clean out or replace filters as specified by retailer.

Safety - Everyone loves water – including children. Be sure to buy or make a child-proof rain barrel.

Water Quality - Porous or rough roofing materials (such as asphalt rolled roofing or shingles) tend to hold particulates, such as heavy metals from air pollution and bird feces. Wood shakes may leach wood preservatives containing heavy metals, and asphalt roofing may leach petrochemicals. Do not use rain barrel water for cooking or drinking. Rain barrel water is considered safe for plants except from roofs treated with moss killer. If moss killer has been used on your roof, let a few rain events bypass the barrel after moss killer application before collecting water. Check with the retailer and the Williamsburg Area Environmental Health Office at 253-4813 before using your rain cistern for potable uses.

Oak barrels and those converted into rain barrels available at Charlie’s Antiques and Reproductions at7766 Richmond Roadfor conversion into rain barrels

Will rain barrels or a cistern match my traditional or colonial décor?

 

Rain barrels in series to increase catchment potential, courtesy of Clean Virginia Waterways.

Yes! In the colonial era, rainwater was collected by some households in wooden barrels for tasks such as washing laundry. Wooden rain barrels are available at various retailers. Cisterns can be underground and need not interfere with your yard.

How do I calculate my roof’s catchment potential?

Fill in the blanks to find out how much water you can catch!

Rain caught (gallons) ______ = (inches of rain) ______ x (0.6) x (horizontal square footage of your roof that drains into rain barrel or cistern) ______

To determine horizontal square footage of your roof that drains into your rain barrel or cistern, imagine your house as viewed from above. Ignore the slant of the roofline and calculate area based on horizontal length and width of the edge of the roof, on a plane parallel to the ground. This is the “horizontal area” of your roof. Calculate horizontal area, not area along the surface of the roof, because the catchment calculation relies on amount of rainfall, as measured in inches up from the ground. An inch of rainfall will collect the same amount of rainwater regardless of whether you have a steep or shallow slant to your roof.

Remember that rain from the entire roof will not drain into the downspout attached to your rain barrel or cistern. Only a portion of the roof will be sloped so that water drains to your rain barrel cistern, so only include the relevant horizontal area.

Example of calculations

The following calculations are done for rain barrels, however, the same calculations apply to cisterns as well.

Rain Barrel 1 - In the above diagram, the horizontal area that drains into Rain Barrel 1 is 150 square feet (10 feet x 15 feet, in RED above) + 50 square feet ({10 feet x 10 feet} / 2 to find the triangular area, in ORANGE above).

150 square feet + 50 square feet = 200 square feet - Therefore, 2,000 square feet of horizontal area drain into Rain Barrel 1.

Rain Barrel 2 - Also in the above diagram, the horizontal area that drains into Rain Barrel 2 is 300 square feet (30 feet x 10 feet, in BLUE above) + 50 square feet ({10 feet x 10 feet} / 2 to find the triangular area, in GREEN above)

300 square feet + 50 square feet = 350 square feet - Therefore, 350 square feet of horizontal area drain into Rain Barrel 2.

Now, to determine how much rainwater you can potentially catch in each rain barrel after a 1-inch rainfall:

Rain Barrel 1 - 1 inch of rainfall x (0.6) x (200 square feet, from calculations above) = 120 gallons

In Rain Barrel 1, you can catch 120 gallons of water after just 1 inch of rainfall. You may be limited by the storage capacity of your rain barrel. Most rain barrels hold only 50 gallons. Consider linking multiple rain barrels.

Rain Barrel 2 - 1 inch of rainfall x (0.6) x (350 square feet, from calculations above) = 210 gallons

In Rain Barrel 2, you can catch 210 gallons of water after just 1 inch of rainfall! Again, consider linking multiple rain barrels.

Where do I buy rain barrels locally?

Check with your local hardware and gardening stores or try the list below. It is accurate to the best of our knowledge, but availability is subject to change.

Ace Peninsula Hardware sells recycled plastic rain barrels.
4511 John Tyler Highway
Williamsburg, Virginia 23185
757-220-9362

Ace Peninsula Hardware sells black plastic, 60-gallon rain barrels.
1230 Richmond Road
Williamsburg, VA 23185
757-229-1900

Anderson’s Home & Garden Showplace
11250 Jefferson Avenue
Newport News, VA 23601
757-599-3510

Be the Bay sells rain barrels made from recycled, locally-used white oak wine barrels with brass spigots. Ten percent of profits go to Chesapeake Bay restoration projects. Free delivery within local area.
Chesapeake Environmental Communications, Inc.
PO Box 1295
Gloucester Point, VA 23062
804-832-0630

Charlie’s Antiques and Reproductions carries oak barrels and those converted to rain barrels, once used in whiskey and wine production and recently used on the set of the John Adams mini-series. Staff members may be able to provide useful advice about rain barrel construction and installation.
7766 Richmond Road
Toano, VA 23168
757-566-8300

Cookes Gardens and Landscaping carries recycled, plastic, 60-gallon rain barrels, and can provide rain barrel installation.
1826 Jamestown Road
Williamsburg, VA 23185
757-220-0099

Friends of the Rappahannock volunteers build and sell rain barrels to raise funds for their river conservation work. Because they reuse existing plastic barrels, their barrels conserve fossil fuels and have a very low carbon footprint. Please note that the group does not ship their rain barrels. They can be picked up at the Friends of the Rappahannock office in Fredericksburg.
3219 Fall Hill Ave, P.O. Box 7254, Fredericksburg, VA  22401
(540) 373-3448

Heidi’s Homegrown & Organics sells upcycled rain barrels.
heidi@heidishomegrown.com
757-713-3276

Irrigation Concepts, LLC provides rain water harvesting and cistern design.
3320 John Tree Hill Rd
Powhatan, VA 23139
804-822-0083
Email: tommy.edwards@comcast.net

Irrigation Management Solutions, LLC, provides rain water harvesting and cistern design.
536 Pantops Center – Box 221
Charlottesville, VA 22911
434-326-5414
Email: scott@imsllcusa.com

Jamestown Feed and Seed offers 55-gallon, black plastic rain barrels fitted with a screen on top, a brass spigot, and overflow tubing.
7348 Richmond Road
Williamsburg VA 23188
757-564-8528

The Historic Triangle Senior Center sells rain barrels made from recycled 55 gallon olive barrels and include a screen, overflow valve and spigot.
5301 Longhill Road
Williamsburg, VA 23188
757-259-4187

Homestead Garden Center sells 50-gallon, durable, UV-stable polyethylene rain barrels.
4191 Rochambeau Drive
Williamsburg, VA 23188
757-566-0404

Let It Grow, Inc., carries rain barrels made from 60-gallon, recycled, oak wine barrels, complete with all hardware and fittings needed to connect one to a normal-sized downspout.

5251 John Tyler Highway, Suite 55
Williamsburg, VA 23185
757-220-0606

Lynnhaven River Now is a river restoration project in Virginia Beach that sells rain barrels because they are an easy way for homeowners to reduce runoff from their properties.  The organization takes orders and has rain barrels available within about a week for delivery or pickup from their office in Virginia Beach.
1608 Pleasure House Road, Suite 108
Virginia Beach, VA 23455
757-962-5398 

Mike's Rain Barrels carries food grade, recycled, 56-gallon rain barrels.
4844 Texas Avenue
Norfolk, VA 23513
757-761-1553

Document in above link provided by Mike's Rain Barrels.

Nature’s Choice Landscape, LLC, sells and installs a wide variety of rain barrels.
P.O. Box 249
Lightfoot, VA 23090
757-220-9585
Email: natureschoicewilliamsburg@yahoo.com

Sam's Club carries wooden rain barrels made from used whiskey barrels and fitted with brass spigots. 
12407 Jefferson Avenue
Newport News, VA 23602
757-875-0243

Turf & Garden sells 75-gallon rain barrels with a brass spigot and lid that can be used as a planter.
2012 Campostella Rd.
Chesapeake, VA 23327
757-543-2071
Grafton 757-898-4100
Suffolk 757-638-0132


The JCSA does not endorse specific brands, products, contractors, or companies. List does not denote preference. If you notice that our list is out of date, please email jcsa@jamescitycountyva.gov or call us at 259-5416. JCSA reserves the right to control web content.

Where do I buy a rain cistern locally?

Check with your local hardware and gardening stores or try the list below. It is accurate to the best of our knowledge, but availability is subject to change.

Cookes Gardens and Landscaping can provide design and installation services for above or below ground rain cisterns to accommodate specific water demands for a variety of residential or commercial indoor and outdoor applications. 
1826 Jamestown Road
Williamsburg, VA 23185
757-220-0099

Irrigation Concepts, LLC, provides rain water harvesting and cistern design.
3320 John Tree Hill Rd
Powhatan, VA 23139
804-822-0083
Email: tommy.edwards@comcast.net

Mathews Soil Consultants, Inc., can provide design services and partners with a local contractor for above or below ground rain cisterns to accommodate nonpotable water demands for a variety of residential or commercial indoor and outdoor applications. 
P.O. Box 34099
5700 C Hopkins Road
Richmond, VA 23234
804-271-0136
Email: info@mathewssoil.com
www.mathewssoil.com

Mid Atlantic Enterprise, Inc., can provide design and installation services for cisterns.
203 Bethune Drive
Williamsburg, VA 23185
757-903-6275
www.midatlanticenterprise.com

Nature’s Choice Landscape, LLC, can provide design and installation services for above or below ground rain cisterns to accommodate specific water demands for a variety of residential or commercial indoor and outdoor applications. 
P.O. Box 249
Lightfoot, VA 23090
757-220-9585
Email: natureschoicewilliamsburg@yahoo.com

The JCSA does not endorse specific brands, products, contractors, or companies. List does not denote preference. If you notice that our list is out of date, please email jcsa@jamescitycountyva.gov or call us at 259-5416. JCSA reserves the right to control web content.

Where do I buy rain barrels online?

Aaron's Rain Barrels & More sells rain barrels including rustic oak whiskey barrel and whiskey barrel with rain chain.

Aquabarrel sells rain barrels as well as kits with instructions in case you already have a barrel. (Please check barrel specifications.)

EXI-PLAST sells stackable, nestable rain barrels made of recyclable high density polyethylene.

Gardener’s Supply Company sells various rain barrels (including oak and ‘pop-up,’ soft-material rain barrels) and accessories such as downspout diverters and linking kits.

GardenSuperMart sells two rain barrels that combine the elegant appearance of ceramic and the longevity and lightweight durability of modern plastic. One model comes with a crown planter for discrete water collection.

Growers Supply, a division of FarmTek, sells a rain barrel that automatically re-routes water back to the house drainage system when barrel is full.

Old Dominion Farm sells rain barrels made from recycled 60-gallon food-grade barrels, and each barrel comes complete with brass overflow valves and a brass quarter-turn spigot.

Rainwater HOG sells multiaward winning, 50-gallon, easy to lift, modular tanks for storing rain water which work horizontally under decks or vertically along walls or fences. Rainwater HOG has been designed for a longer life (20+ years). As it is modular, the system can be scalable so more units can be added at a later time.

Rain Barrels and More, a division of Fireside Gallery, Inc., has been manufacturing rain barrels from recycled plastic food-grade and white oak barrels for over eight years.  By recycling these barrels, they have saved hundreds of tons of discarded plastic from being dumped in our already over-stressed landfills. They have supplied many cities and conservation organizations with thousands of rain barrels over the last eight years. They also sell direct to individuals through their website.

The Rain Barrel Depot sells a variety of rain barrels, kits and accessories.

Rain Water Solutions, Inc., provides 65 gallon rain barrels of 100 percent recycled plastic manufactured in Smithfield, North Carolina.

RiverSides is a non-profit source water protection agency based in Toronto that sells high-quality, 132-gallon rain barrels. Discounts are granted for bulk orders. All proceeds fund RiverSides’ community programs.

The Rain Barrel Company sells retail quality or slightly blemished (minor scratches) rain barrels.

The Tank Depot, Inc., sells a wide variety of rain barrels and above and below ground cisterns, to store anywhere from 22 to 10,000 gallons. Their website also provides information about designs, usage, considerations, installations, local rebates, and relevant news.

Note: The JCSA does not endorse specific brands, products, or dealers. List is in alphabetical order and does not denote preference. If you are an online dealer that offers rain barrels and you are not on our list, or if you notice that our list is otherwise out of date, please let us know. JCSA reserves the right to control web content.

Where do I buy a rain cistern online?

To suggest an online store, please email jcsa@jamescitycountyva.gov or call us at 757-259-5416.

The Tank Depot, Inc., sells a wide variety of rain barrels and above and below ground cisterns, to store anywhere from 22 to 10,000 gallons. Their website also provides information about designs, usage, considerations, installations, local rebates, and relevant news.

The JCSA does not endorse specific brands, products, contractors, or companies. List does not denote preference. If you notice that our list is out of date, please email jcsa@jamescitycountyva.gov or call us at 757-259-5416. JCSA reserves the right to control web content.

How do I make a rain barrel?

A wealth of instructions can be found online! Rain barrels are cheap and quick to make. Use an online search engines such as Google, Yahoo, MSN, or others to search make rain barrel or try the links below*:

Please Note: Links noted .pdf above require Adobe Acrobat Reader, a free program available at www.adobe.com

*The JCSA does not endorse specific rain barrel designs, websites, dealers, or organizations. These sites have not been reviewed by JCSA for content, so use at your own risk. List is in alphabetical order, and does not denote preference. If you have a website that contains rain barrel instructions and you are not on our list, or if you notice that our list is otherwise out of date, please let us know. JCSA reserves the right to control web content.

Where can I buy containers and other parts in order to make my own rain barrels?

If you’re building your own rain barrel, try local food and beverage distributors and discount superstores for containers. Be sure to use a container that was made to hold liquid and has not contained dangerous chemicals. A trash can will not withstand the pressure of the water for long.

For parts such as faucets, screens, washers, and lock nuts to combine with your barrel, try local hardware stores or Aquabarrel for a parts kit. See Aquabarrel for kit details.

Bock Drum Company carries various new and reused containers ranging from 1 to 275 gallons. Their reused containers are clean for non-potable uses.
2610 Florida Avenue
Norfolk, VA 23513
757-855-0549

Charlie’s Antiques and Reproductions may have oak barrels, once used in whiskey and wine production and recently used on the set of the John Adams mini-series. Staff members have constructed a rain barrel, and may be able to provide useful advice.
7766 Richmond Road
Toano, VA 23168
757-566-8300

G. I. Joe’s Military Surplus sells 55-gallon plastic barrels, once used to hold spices.
2330 Route. 17 (George Washington Memorial Highway)
Yorktown, VA 23693
757-867-8497

GutterWorks.com

The Williamsburg Winery may have a small supply of used wine barrels available late fall or early winter
5800 Wessex Hundred
Williamsburg, Virginia 23185
757-229-0999
wine@wmbgwine.com

Wal-Mart occasionally carries used whiskey barrels. They have in the past carried them in the spring.
731 East Rochambeau Road
Williamsburg, VA 23188
757-220-2772

The JCSA does not endorse specific stores, brands, products, or materials. Use barrels and other materials at your own risk. If you are a local retailer that offers rain barrels and you are not on our list, or if you notice that our list is otherwise out of date, please let us know. JCSA reserves the right to control web content.

What else can I do to conserve municipal water?

In order to save additional water:

  1. Consider landscaping techniques from our Let’s Be Water Smart program including lawn care calendars, guides, suggested plants, and water-thrifty tips under “Resources."
  2. If you plan to install a new toilet, make it a high-efficiency toilet! Look for the EPA’s new WaterSense label and visit their website when shopping for high-efficiency toilets, landscape irrigation services, irrigation control technologies, showerheads, and more! (Check our WaterSense High-Efficiency Toilet Rebate to see if you are eligible.)
  3. Install a rain sensor for your home irrigation system if you do not have one. This is probably the easiest action you can take to save the most water. (Check our Rain Sensor Rebate to see if you are eligible.)
  4. Check out our other rebates.
    HRWET watersense watersmart


What else can I do to reduce runoff and protect my local waterways?

 

Water Smart landscaping works great in conjunction with other stormwater management and low impact development features, such as green roofs, rain gardens, porous pavement, and proper retention pond maintenance.


See the PRIDE (Protecting Resources in Delicate Environments) website for information about:

  • Turf Love, a partner program with the Virginia Cooperative Extension Master Gardener volunteers to teach homeowners how to produce healthy turf while reducing the use of fertilizers, pesticides, and insecticides,
  • Simple tips to protect our waterways, and
  • A primer on rain gardens (.pdf), which are gardens developed in low-lying areas where drainage collects, so that your stormwater runoff helps your garden grow instead of hurting your local waterways.

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