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RECYCLING RAIN: You can learn to make your own rain barrel at an upcoming workshop.

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We're soon going to trade this snow/rain mix in for just rain this spring. And, you can learn how to save all that water for future use. Rain barrels continue to grow in popularity in Iowa as people look for ways to conserve our natural resources. Next week, you can learn how to make one yourself.

Rain is a welcome sight for lewis major. He collects the drops that fall on his roof. He says, "Rain barrels are gaining popularity in the metro. It's a great way to collect water and store it for outdoor use."

Major is a Naturalist for Polk County Conservation. He says he has two barrels at home, and he teaches people about them at work. He says, "It's just a good conservation practice. Why pay for something and use it out of the faucet when you can collect it naturally and get the benefits that way."

He says the benefits include using the water to grow your garden or wash your windows and cars. He says recycling the rain also helps the environment by reducing runoff from your yard. He says, "It holds water back. I know a 55 gallon rain barrel isn't going to stop some of the flooding issues we have in the state. But, every little bit does help."

You can buy a rain barrel for about $100 or you can make one yourself. Major says it really just takes a couple tools a few parts and just a little time. He says, "If you've done it before, it only takes 5 to 10 minutes."

Major teaches people how to make their own rain barrels at Polk County Conservation workshops. He says you just need to drill three holes: one for the downspout, one for the spigot, and one for an overflow hose. The barrel can be any container that could have carried food. He says, "It's anything that can capture water and hold it for a future use."

He says Polk County Conservation offers three upcoming workshops. The sessions cost $50 and includes all the supplies you need to build your own barrel and start recycling the rain. You can sign up for the rain barrel workshop online at The next workshop is March 19 at Easter Lake Park.

You can also buy a system from Rain Barrels Iowa in Beaverdale. Those sell for a little more than $100. People in Ankeny and Ames can get help from the city in paying for a barrel.