By Femke Oldham
On the 20th anniversary of the Oakland hills fire, The Watershed Project is asking you to look to the sky. We are pleased to announce our partnership with the City of Oakland, the Urban Farmer Store, DIG Cooperative, and Merritt College to roll out a new program that honors the history of the Oakland fire by working to preserve and protect fire-affected areas. The Oakland Rain Barrel Program (ORBP) uses federal grant dollars to offer rain barrels at deeply discounted prices to Oakland residents, with an emphasis on those who live in the hills and whose properties are at risk of erosion.
On October 20th of 1991, a fire coursed through the Oakland hills and burned the top layer of soil and vegetation. The bare soil was left largely unprotected and has continued to face the risk of increased erosion. Matt Freiberg, our Greening Urban Watersheds Program Manager, points out, “erosion is a big issue in the Oakland hills. When water rushes over bare land, it carries sediment and pollutants with it… straight to the creek. Rain barrels will help slow the flow of water down the hills, creating a stronger and more resilient watershed.”
A rain barrel is easily installed at the gutter downspout of a home. All of the rainwater that falls on the house’s roof is then diverted into a barrel or cistern. This system slows the flow of stormwater over their property, preventing erosion and preserving the health of Oakland’s streams and rivers. The rainwater system also helps homeowners save water in wet months to use to water their garden in dry months.
Paul Cannon, a resident of Maxwell Park, believes so strongly in the program that he offered to be a part of the “Me and My Barrel” group on the ORBP Facebook page. He said of owning rain barrels, “We’re always inspired to make our garden an inviting, peaceful space where wildlife and plants thrive. The six rain barrels we installed are a natural extension of this dynamic.” Cannon argues that rain barrels help save money and conserve water because collected rainwater can be used for gardens. They also help property owners protect their investment by keeping water out of the foundation of their homes.
Don’t miss out! The Oakland Rain Barrel Program is a great opportunity for Oakland hills residents, but these discounts on rain barrels will only last for a short time. For more information on how you can save up to 75% on the purchase of a rain barrel, visit www.oaklandpw.com/rainbarrel or call the Urban Farmer Store at (510) 524-1604.