Talking Green: Sustaining water in the Yampa Valley with rain barrels |

Talking Green: Sustaining water in the Yampa Valley with rain barrels

Madison Muxworthy
For Steamboat Pilot & Today

As we adapt to a warmer and drier Yampa Valley climate, a fun yet impactful at-home water conservation strategy is using a rain barrel. They lessen demand for treated water, can save you money on your water bill, and provide an opportunity to store water for your landscaping and garden to be used in dry times. Outdoor water use accounts for 30% of water use in our community. Additionally, outdoor water use has a high evaporative loss, meaning less water will make it back to our rivers and streams as opposed to indoor water use.

If we look at the numbers, on average, Colorado receives roughly 16 inches of rain per year. By collecting rainwater in Colorado, you can harvest up to 9,968 gallons of water per year for landscaping and gardens. 

In recognition of the benefits of rainwater collection, Yampa Valley Sustainability Council is working with the City of Steamboat Springs and Mount Werner Water and Sanitation District to offer another rain barrel group buy opportunity for residents of the city this year. Last year’s rain barrel group buy completely sold out! This year, we will increase the number of rain barrels for sale to accommodate the interest. If you want to receive a notification when the next rain barrel group buy is live, please sign up at

Here are 5 key things to know about rain barrel use in Colorado:

  1. Yes, they are legal! Rainwater harvesting became legal in Colorado in 2016.
  2. You can have up to two rain barrels with a combined capacity of up to 110 gallons.
  3. Rain barrels can only be installed on residential properties that are single-family households or multi-family households with four or fewer units. 
  4. The rain barrel lid needs to be fully sealed.
  5. Water collected can only be used for outdoor purposes like watering your garden or landscaping.

Visit Colorado’s Division of Water Resources site for more information on the current rules for using a rain barrel in Colorado. Please keep in mind that if you are interested in purchasing a rain barrel, your home needs to have gutters for a legal setup.

Want to know more about the City of Steamboat Springs and Mount Werner Water and Sanitation District’s efforts toward water conservation? Join us for the YVSC Community Meeting on Wednesday, May 24, from 1-2 pm. Registration for the virtual event will be live on the website. Our featured speakers will be Julie Baxter, Water Resources Manager for the City of Steamboat Springs, and Frank Alfone, General Manager for Mount Werner Water and Sanitation District. 

Madison Muxworthy is Yampa Valley Sustainability Council’s Soil Moisture, Water and Snow Program Manager. 

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