When the Rains Come, Catch Every Drop with Discounted Rain Barrel

two rain barrels

The weather forecasts say this could be a relatively dry winter, which means having a rain barrel to collect every precious drop of rain and cut your gardening water costs could be more important than ever.

And this month local residents can pick up a discounted top-of-the-line rain barrel for $90 — and potentially as little as $25 — thanks to the County of San Diego’s Watershed Protection Program, the nonprofit Solana Center and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

It’s easy. Order and pay for a $90 Ivy rain barrel online at the Solana Center’s website and choose to pick it up at one of two events: Saturday, Jan. 30 in Bonita, or Saturday, Feb. 6 in Lakeside. COVID-19 prevention measures will be in place.

Then you can shrink your cost from $90 to $55 by applying for $35 rebate from the Metropolitan Water District, available to residents who get their water from the San Diego County Water Authority or its participating member agencies.

Finally, the County of San Diego is giving out its own $30 discounts on the first 200 rain barrels ordered by residents who live in the unincorporated county, which could lower your total cost to just $25.

Ordering deadlines

There are two ordering deadlines. Order by Jan. 24 to pick up your rain barrel in Bonita from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Jan. 30 at the Sweetwater Community Garden at 5354 Sweetwater Road. Order by Jan. 31 if you’d like to pick up your rain barrel in Lakeside between 9 a.m. and noon on Saturday, Feb. 6 at the Lakeside Community Center at 9841 Vine Street.

If you can’t make either of the two pickup events, you can also pick up your barrel from noon to 5 p.m. on Thursdays and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays at the Solana Center’s Encinitas offices at 137 N. El Camino Real.

Rain barrels will not be shipped. To protect everyone against COVID-19, customers must wear masks and remain in their cars. Workers at the Bonita and Lakeside events will also wear masks and load rain barrels into people’s trunks or back seats. There will be also be a staging area separated from the pickup spot for customers who need to adjust tie-downs or take other measures to secure rain barrels. A fuller explanation of the pickup process is located on the Solana Center’s webpage.

Having a rain barrel can let you “harvest” rain right off your roof and use it to keep your gardens or lawns green the old-fashioned way. That can cut your water costs and even help protect our local beaches by preventing excess rain from washing pollution off our roofs and yards, and down our streets to the ocean.

The Ivy Rain Barrels have a locking, child-proof lid, are made of 100% recycled material, have overflow ports, protective screening to keep mosquitoes out, a ¾-inch ball valve to connect to your garden hose or to another barrel, and they don’t need pumps because they use gravity to dispense their collected rainwater.

Getting your discounted rain barrel is easy one, two, three — order your rain barrel; apply for your rebate(s); go pick it up!

Order and buy your barrel

Go to the County/Solana Center’s rain barrels website. Scroll halfway down the page and click on one of the two options to start your purchase:

  • “Check address & Start Purchase” (to buy a $60 barrel if you live in the Unincorporated County)
  • “Start Purchase” (to buy a $90 barrel if you’re a resident living in an incorporated city.)

From there you’ll be asked to choose one of the three pickup locations. Do that and you can order and pay for your rain barrel with a credit card.

You may buy as many rain barrels as you’d like, but the Metropolitan rebate and County discount are limited to two per household.

Finally, remember that your rain barrel will not be delivered. You can pick it up at any of the three pickup locations; remember to print out and bring your receipt.

Apply for your rebate(s)

$35 rebates from the Metropolitan Water District are available within 90 days of ordering/buying your rain barrel, so as soon as you order your rain barrel go to Metropolitan’s SoCalWaterSmart rain barrel rebates webpage. Rebates are available on a first-come, first-served basis. You can check out the Metropolitan Water District rebates’ frequently asked questions for help.

Pick up your rain barrel!

When you buy your barrel(s), Rainwater Solutions will email you a confirmation of your purchase. Remember to bring your confirmation email with you when you go to your chosen location to pick up your barrel. And remember to leave room in your car! Solana Center officials say that barrels fit easily in any four-door sedan or SUV and even into some two-door cars.

For more information, go to the Solana Center’s webpage.

Gig Conaughton is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact