Harvested rainwater isn’t just drops in the bucket; rain fresh from the sky is not only healthier for plants but reduces both pollution and your water bill.

StormWorks, a social enterprise that flowed out of the work of the Nine Mile Run Watershed Association, has created an innovative rain system for residential homes. Called the Hydra, the modern rainbarrel is  rectangular in shape, designed to snugly hug any home or small business. The 116-gallon unit comes in earth tones–which blend nicely with any home–and sells online for $275, including all the accessories.

“We believe it’s the best functioning container on the market and it looks better, too,” says Luke Stamper, sales manager and part of the seven-person StormWorks team.

The Hydra has been a work in progress for the last eight years. NMRWA has been gathering feedback from users to develop a system that residents would be eager to use. Its slim design makes placement easy behind shrubs or up against a tight area of the house, Stamper says.

StormWorks’ goal is to encourage residents to seek a home consultation prior to the purchase of the system in order to gain a better understanding of how much water is moving through and where it is going. The company offers consultations for $75; residents receive 50% back on the consult if they buy the Hydra.

The containers are manufactured in Erie, Pa., from recycled UV-Stabilized polyethylene. They have multiple spigot and overflow openings, a removable mosquito-proof filter basket and include instructions on how to winterize the system without moving the barrel inside.

“We want to make sure that homeowners not only have a high functioning rain barrel, but understand what they can do to maintain it and ensure its working,” Stamper says.

Deb Smit

Deb is an award-winning journalist who loves ancient places and cool technologies. A former daily newspaper reporter and Time-Life Books editor, she writes mostly about Pittsburgh. Her stories have appeared...