Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

Council approves stormwater credits for rain barrels

6. June 2007 • Murph
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Reader HD provides a timely tip on decking out your home with rain barrels:

At Monday’s meeting, City Council approved a change in stormwater fee structure based on amount of impervious surface and that also provide green credits for residents who implement:

1. rain barrels or
2. rain gardens or
3. detention ponds

There will be an online interface where residents can view how much impervious surface the City believes they have and where it is located. Green credits for (1) and (2) will be handled on an honor system basis, with possible spot checks (enforcement costs do not begin to approach the amount of the credit).

This fits nicely with Marilynn Rosenthal and the Burns Park Neighborhood’s plan to host a meeting on rain barrels this Wednesday, 6 June at 7pm at the Burns Park School cafeteria. Open to the public, not just Burns Parkers.

> The Ann Arbor News discussed rain barrels last Friday
> Ypsilanti-based non-profit Growing Hope holds periodic rainbarrel (and worm bin) workshops, as well as selling pre-made barrels as a fundraiser
> To build your own, the Ann Arbor water treatment facility is a popular source for empty, garden-safe 55 gallon plastic barrels.

  1. These changes are really good! Our property has only about 1,000 square feet of impervious area, which means that we are far below the 2187 sq ft necessary to qualify for an actual rate cut. Plus, Sabra has been talking about putting in a rain barrel.

       —David Cahill    Jun. 6 '07 - 11:18PM    #
  2. Well it’s about time! Seriously, with property taxes such as they are, the City needs to come to the plate a bit more…at least for those of us without kids ;) There is a great program in Minneapolis that I saw firsthand last month whereby residents were offered rain barrels at half-price

    We have one installed (bought locally) and it works great. There is a soaker hose attached, wending its way through one of our gardens. These rains of late fill it up in no time. Now we are on the lookout for at least two more barrels. While the article mentions A^2 Water Treatment Facility’s site, there is no apparent mention of the availability of the barrels there. We have also checked the ReUse Center as well as the Habitat’s ReStore but no luck, at least with food grade barrels.

       —robert s.    Jun. 7 '07 - 06:23PM    #
  3. Robert S., sounds like you might be already set (unless you’ve got an urge to compete for total storage capacity … which would be nice to see evolve actually … “My barrel’s bigger than your barrel”) but at the end of this too-long description of the meeting, there’s some indication of how to solve the procurement problem. And that, I would say, is the weak link right now.


    The rain barrel meeting at Burns Park Elementary was a good example of how a community’s governmental agencies can respond constructively to community interest in a particular topic—in this case rain barrels. I counted 40 heads, but there were several more who streamed in after that. I’d guess 50-60 members of the general public. One guy I heard say he came from Ypsi, and another from Dexter.

    Matt Naud, Environmental Coordinator for the City, emceed. Jerry Hancock, from Systems Planning for the City (the man for water and drainage) was there as a resource as well.

    The nicely paced program consisted of:

    Tom McMurtry from the City: Gave some background on the new stormwater rate structure scheduled to take effect 4 July (second reading and public hearing on at 18 June meeting of Council). For the technology crowd: flyover was done and infrared photographs were taken; those photographs were then analyzed by algorithm to determine impervious surface areas; amount of impervious surface determines your rate. There’s an appeals process if you’ve got pervious area misanalysed as impervious (e.g., decks, pervious pavers … random 12 foot long boards?) This is a change from the flat $22.00 per quarter charged to everyone. Rain barrel credit of $1.75 per quarter is based on the positive impact of five barrels in a household, but to qualify it suffices to have one. Tom walks the rain barrel walk by maintaining a 300 gallon barrel in his backyard. The online version of the interface for this will eventually be under

    Janis Bobrin, Country Drain Commissioner: gave some background on the RiverSafe Home program. Plaques are available designating your home as RiverSafe. My take-away from Bobrin’s remarks was that most people are_probably_ already doing most of the things required to qualify as RiverSafe, or could achieve this with a minimum of effort. For example, it’s a matter of not flushing your unused Vicodin down the toilet but instead making sure you triple bag it and put it in your trash. Check the website for more info.

    Laura Rubin from the Huron River Watershed Council gave a nice background on the 910 square mile area and 22 tributaries into the Huron that we’re talking about. Built landscape results in run off that is (1) hot (2) polluted (3) voluminous. The idea is to mitigate through rain barrels and rain gardens.

    Harry Sheehan, Environmental Manager in the County Drain Commissioner’s Office, talked about the County’s program to install demonstration rain gardens. Website documenting these forthcoming … it’s an intern’s summer project. Harry talked about basic design considerations (square footage required, depth, suitable plants), cost, feasibility. There are a couple of ‘slots’ still available for the County’s rain garden demo program, funded through 2008. Resident is required to pay for materials, plants, and labor, but the County provides the landscape architecting that ensures that it will actually work. He can be contacted at sheehan(at)

    Lynne and Michelle from Growing Hope showed off their demonstration rain barrel. Rain barrels are a fundraiser for Growing Hope. They’ll sell you a completed one (sliding scale $40-$100). You can also attend a workshop where they’ll lead you through making one. Their strategy for producing rain barrels is to start with a recycled 55-gallon plastic (foodsafe) barrel and install the hardware. Sourcing for local 55-gallon barrels is difficult. But they reported a currrent inventory of 10 barrels.

    One of the items in the written feedback sheet addressed the question of how residents would like to go about acquiring rain barrels: (1) coordination with Growing Hope (2) mass pre-purchase and distribution by governmental agencies (3) buy one from a hardware store. Matt Naud actually floated this one verbally, as well. There was a solid contingent of folks that raised their hands in favor of coordination with Growing Hope.

    Aside: There was bottled city water provided (A2H20) at the meeting. But there was also lemonade and home-baked chocolate chip cookies (with a few butterscotch morsels thrown in!), provided by the Burns Park hosts. Now that’s how you host a meeting.

    There’s a willingness on the part of the folks who presented last night to come to your neighborhood and present as well. For rain barrels specifically, Tom McMurtry seems to be the go-to guy.

       —HD    Jun. 7 '07 - 07:51PM    #
  4. “... sounds like you might be already set”

    Sorry, on the first read-through, I missed “Now we are on the lookout for at least two more barrels.”

       —HD    Jun. 7 '07 - 08:19PM    #
  5. Wait a second — how much did it cost to sterilize the lemonade containers and the cookies?

    Because if we boxed those cookies, we could achieve economies of scale and promote local production with a product I’ll tentatively call A2C3O (Ann Arbor Chocolate Chip Cookies and Other morsels) that also would let people know about the problem of Great Lakes morsel depletion (damn you, unsustainable Arizonans!). Burns Park, right? — maybe CM Rapundalo would be up for a resolution on a “kitchen table issue” that seems tailor made for his constituency. Or should I say “home-baked”?

    Don’t even get me started on the liability of serving or allowing lemonade at local meetings.

       —Dale    Jun. 7 '07 - 08:22PM    #
  6. Dale, let’s not encourage any more half-baked actions by Council than really necessary…

    I’ve never myself picked up empties from the water treatment plant, but the last four people I talked to who had made their own all said that was their source. Me, I got mine from Growing Hope.

       —Murph    Jun. 7 '07 - 09:12PM    #
  7. This is great! I’ve been meaning to pick up a rain barrel or 2 and this is even more of an incentive. If you like the rustic look check out, That’s where I’m planning on getting mine. It’s a little more expensive that way (shipping something that big), but beats a big ol’ piece of plastic sitting next to my house, at least in my book.

       —Alan    Jun. 7 '07 - 10:39PM    #
  8. Mosquitos are a concern for some people about rain barrels. So far, my looking around online has suggested two main approaches:

    1. Keep it covered, so mosquitos can’t get in. (Growing Hope’s come with netting glued over the top opening, under this philosophy.)
    2. Get “mosquito dunks” at your local hardware store. These are apparently Bt tablets, which kill mosquitos and other invertebratey things.

    But there was an outlier suggestion, which I’m tempted by: get a goldfish and keep it in the rain barrel, where it will eat all of the mosquito larvae. As a bonus, you’ll get goldfish poop to make your rainwater extra nutritious for your plants…

    I imagine you can’t drain your barrel all the way, though. Maybe a lungfish?

       —Murph.    Jun. 8 '07 - 01:43AM    #
  9. One problem with wooden rain barrels is that they leak more than plastic because they are susceptible to the swell/shrink cycle and also their bottoms tend to rot out. You want one that has an overflow outlet that will let you direct water away from your house and something that has a cover so it doesn’t become a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Ours also has sturdy struts across the top so that the neighborhood kids/cats/dogs/racoons don’t end up floating in it. Downtown Home and Garden has good plastic ones (support your local, downtown business!). We got ours for my birthday several years ago from there and it has been great.

       —Juliew    Jun. 8 '07 - 01:53AM    #
  10. But there was an outlier suggestion, which I’m tempted by: get a goldfish and keep it in the rain barrel, where it will eat all of the mosquito larvae. As a bonus, you’ll get goldfish poop to make your rainwater extra nutritious for your plants. I imagine you can’t drain your barrel all the way, though. Maybe a lungfish?

    Oh man, that is a rough life for a goldfish—these things fill up FAST in a big rain. You would have to name the poor thing Tsunami! Speaking of draining, we have found that you do really need to fully drain the rain barrels at the end of the year and put the gutter back up or you end up with a big block of ice next to your house.

       —Juliew    Jun. 8 '07 - 03:19AM    #
  11. Juliew, that’s absolutely true. Wooden rain barrels require a lot more maintenance. They shouldn’t be allowed to dry out. Drying out leads to the swelling/shrinking issue you mentioned.

    Also, untreated wood of any type should never come in direct contact with the ground, that causes the bottom rot you mentioned. Sitting them on bricks or pavers of some kind would be required.

    The best rain barrels should be sealed (or at least closeable) at the top with only a spout that sticks up and attaches directly to the downspout from your gutters. That’s how the one I’m looking at comes. That cuts down on the mosquito and animal issues.

    And of course, as mentioned, there should be an overflow spout at the top of the barrel. Make sure the other spout is at the bottom of the barrel for your hose. You’d be surprised how many I’ve seen with them in the middle of the barrel.

    No matter what kind you get, it’s a good idea to have one. I’m just not a big fan of plastic. :) I also have to concur with the taking it down in the winter. I’ve had friends end up with broken barrels after a hard freeze.

       —Alan    Jun. 8 '07 - 06:00PM    #
  12. Looks like I did my search for rain barrels a little late. I see that Growing Hope has another class in July. Will check back for info on any other local AA/Ypsi sources for barrels.

       —LeighG    Jun. 20 '07 - 06:14AM    #
  13. So hooray for rain barrels and all that but what’s the scoop on the impervious surface fee nonsense? Anyone got a link to the details of how much my bill is going to go up just because I got a roof over my head and blacktop under my car?

       —Thomas Cook    Jun. 20 '07 - 10:05PM    #
  14. You can get some info by going to the City’s website and search on “impervious”. I think that the details still have to be worked out.

    If you have other ideas for how to better cover the overall costs of stormwater management while still assessing fees fairly, I’d like to hear them.

       —Steve Bean    Jun. 22 '07 - 10:15PM    #
  15. Back at the rain barrel meeting, City staffer Tom McMurtry said that the stormwater user interface on the web would go online on 4 July under the URL:

    When it’s up, this UI is supposed to let you see the infrared photo of your property, ascertain which areas have been analyzed as impervious, and allow for appeal if, e.g., the big square thing analyzed as impervious is, in fact, a deck.

       —HD    Jun. 22 '07 - 10:34PM    #
  16. Sorry Mr. Bean, I’m just grumpy about probably having to pay more for the same goods and services to the guvment. Thanks for the tip on the search. I’m just a crotchety old man before my time. I was a good hippy Republican and had a rain barrel off my garage downspout but I forgot to take it in before a freeze – d’oh! I’ll be a good monkey and get another one once I can afford it.

    Thanks HD too. My worry exactly – the deck will show up to Big Brother as a parking lot. All my rain water runs off into the yard with the way the previous owners sloped my driveway and hung the gutters so I got my back up about this, seeing it as another money grab by The Man. Fight the Power (or the Water Department, as the case may be…)!

       —Thomas Cook    Jun. 26 '07 - 10:50PM    #
  17. Recently my basement was showing and smelling of signs that it was getting damp and correlating with the frequency and intensity of rainfall. Investigation found that the front gutter system wasn’t working properly and the underground lines where clogged. So a couple of weeks ago I finished digging up and installing new drain lines for the gutters. My house had all the gutters from the roofs directing the water away from the house onto the gardens and lawn and still does now with improvement.

    Being an engineer I did have keen interest in the new rate structure and was at the June CC meeting where it was presented. Setting rates based upon amount of impervious areas is a good approach and reflects the basic dynamics of storm water run off. Using the aerial technology is a good way to set the base for this type of rate structure. As indicated on the A2 site it isn’t perfect and now it is up to the customers ro check if they are properly being assed. I think the appeal process maybe swamped by many AA residents and business’s who are on top of the issue. The aerial doesn’t take in consideration all factors. I went to the A2 site and looked at the aerial of my house. I can clearly see that half of the impervious area (roof) is actually going into the ground of my lawn and gardens and would not contribute to runoff. I will definitely be appealing on this factor.

    My wife immediately started discussing with me the idea of a rain barrel. I looked at this option and as an engineer right away know that it needs to be properly set up for overflowing and some sort of consideration of the freezing months. This clearly showed that the payback would not be very conducive on a pure $ analysis unless I improvise with a DIY design and installation. Then when you look at the dynamics of size (storage) to rain fall amounts and frequency (this recent dry weather spell wouldn’t get us much rainwater to use). Hey is this worth the money and hassle? A nice used Kentucky rain barrel is $110 and only holds 53 gallons. I also noticed the overflow spout is maybe 3/4 inch pipe. Handling a nice hard rain fall and you would want maybe a minimum of 1- 1/2 inch all depending on size of roof it is catching. So proper design is a big consideration.

    Back to the rates. The water rates (all three) are a revenue stream needed to operate, maintain and upgrade our water resources and systems. Clearly they will never be reduced because the demands of usage, distribution and water condition will only increase. So what is the best way to charge? It is clear that the new storm water rates have been built on the approach of a customer’s impact and also to facilitate a conscientious customer to take actions for minimal impact. I believe that with my appeal and two of the residential credits my rate will be 13.42/quarterly and if I install a barrel even less. Nice because I will be paying less than the past rate. This is in alignment with the CC presentation where it was mentioned customers; by getting credits will be paying lower rates. No complaint here. Question is if enough of the customers can take credits will the revenue base be what is needed? Will rates have to be raised more to cover all the credits taken? Do we have an equitable rate structure? Are we penalizing those who can not change their storm water profile for credits? Do we want a system based upon a customer’s profile and require higher rate than others? Can we actually measure the effects of customer actions to storm water runoff and the associated costs as it relates to rates?

    Richard Wickboldt
       —Richard Wickboldt    Jul. 5 '07 - 05:00PM    #
  18. Richard Wickboldt wondered: “I think the appeal process may be swamped … “

    No, it might be flooded. Or perhaps deluged. Not swamped.

    But seriously, the 4-tiered rate structure is supposed to mitigate against the filing of appeals that only affect the amount of square footage by a little bit. Unless the re-assessment is different enough to put you into a lower tier, it won’t change the amount you pay.

    When I logged on just now, I couldn’t find the square footage of impervious area on my property expressed as a number anywhere. Sure, the photo with the cross-hatched red lines is way cool and lets me know which areas the City thinks are impervious, but I couldn’t find a number anywhere to ascertain which tier I’m in—although I’m almost certain I’m in the bottom one.

    Richard, can you provide any direction here? You seem to have found the number somewhere for your property?

       —HD    Jul. 5 '07 - 06:21PM    #
  19. HD: You are correct there is no sq/ft # on the site. I based my analysis on removing the roof area since they drain to grass and garden. This leaves my driveway and front walkway of which I know dimensions.


       —Richard Wickboldt    Jul. 5 '07 - 11:36PM    #
  20. Yes, there is a square footage number – at least for 1418 Broadway. It says we have 1389 sq ft of impervious surface. I think this is a little high, since the “basic box” of the house is 20 × 40 = 800 sq ft. Somehow the City has included a mulched path through our front garden as impervious. 8-)

    However, the figure the City is using is will within the mininum rate category. Hooray!

       —David Cahill    Jul. 6 '07 - 03:25AM    #
  21. How does one go about acquiring one of these rain barrels? (I have no idea why I worded that so formally. Sorry). I went on Growing Hope’s website, but could only find information about “rain barrel builds”. How much should I expect to pay for one of these?? Are there any other local places that carry them?
    Thanks :)

       —TeacherPatti    Jul. 6 '07 - 04:28AM    #
  22. Downtown Home and Garden normally sells rain barrels. However, there has been such a rush on them that the manufacturer can’t keep up and so DHG most likely won’t have any until next spring. I’m trying to get a list of other local places that sell them, but I don’t know any off-hand. They will run between $80-$200 depending on features. As a last resort, Amazon does have them. Interestingly, the City’s web site actually has a document that shows how to retrofit a garbage can as a rain barrel. Document is here and the “rain barrel” is on Page 3.

       —Juliew    Jul. 6 '07 - 09:55PM    #
  23. TeacherPatti,

    If you send an email to Growing Hope, they’ll probably add you to their list, which as of yesterday had over 20 people on it. Like everyone else, with the sudden icnrease in interest and demand, GH has been scrambling to find a high-volume, reliable source for containers that can be recycled into rain barrels. Word is, GH is optimistic that they may have recently identified such a source.

    Reading through Juliew’s link, I found that the trash can adaptation comes with the interesting proviso that a trash can—even if it’s been adapted into a rain barrel—cannot be kept so that it’s visible from the front of the house.

    And square footage data seems to have been added across the board to the City’s user interface, just under the parcel id. Squeeked into the bottom tier with 150 square feet to spare …

    Throughout my neighborhood, the property lines on the aerial photos don’t exactly match up with the buildings. So, for example, it appears that some of the impervious area of my downhill neighbor’s backyard shed is in my parcel. On the other hand, some of my garages’ impervious area is sitting in the uphill neighbor’s parcel.

    Question: anybody know if these images are supposed to be have the accuracy and legal weight of a ‘survey’?

       —HD    Jul. 6 '07 - 10:47PM    #
  24. An online source:

       —John Q.    Jul. 6 '07 - 10:58PM    #
  25. HD: No.

    A survey (“boundary survey”, or “stake survey”) is a pretty precise instrument. A “mortgage survey” is less so – call it plus or minus three feet for answering the question, “is my garage/fence/driveway on my property?” Aerial photography, for various reasons including the (in)accuracy of the GPS used to figure out where the plane is, the difficulty of fitting flat photos to non-flat topography, etc, is probably slightly less accurate than a mortgage survey.

    I know that Ann Arbor’s GIS system is managed independently of the rest of the County’s, but I don’t know how different they are. In general, I’d say the aerial and lot lines are “pretty close”, but definitely not good enough for legal or construction purposes.

       —Murph    Jul. 6 '07 - 11:27PM    #
  26. Hey thanks, everybody! This website is great :)

       —TeacherPatti    Jul. 7 '07 - 12:10AM    #
  27. Juleiw said:

    “Interestingly, the City’s web site actually has a document that shows how to retrofit a garbage can as a rain barrel. Document is here and the “rain barrel” is on Page 3.”

    Don’t bother. I tried this three different times. The first time, I re-used my old trash can when the city gave out the big blue wheeled things. Even though i washed it like crazy, it smelled like hell when full of water in the full sun.

    Next, I purchased a cheap trash can and carefully outfitted it with fittings. The thin plastic ended up cracking and leaking before the end of the summer.

    I tried one last time. I purchased the thickest, heavy-duty plastic trash can i could find and very carefully outfitted it once again with fittings and then sealed it up with marine grade sealant. By the end of the summer, it also cracked and leaked.

    Seems to me that if you want it to last, buy the real thing because otherwise i’m about to give up on the whole enterprise.

       —rainman    Jul. 7 '07 - 06:17AM    #
  28. Re: post # 19 Richard Wickboldt says “I based my analysis on removing the roof area since they drain to grass and garden.” I doubt that’s gonna cut it with the city. I could safely argue my driveway shouldn’t even count because most of it slopes to the yard (all my gutters dump into the yard too). But I’d bet you gotta pay for your roof sq footage no matter what you do with your gutters – unless they go to a rain garden. My letter of appeal arguing about my deck and the gutters goes in the mail today so we’ll see.

    Post #20 – Jeez ya hippy, don’t you even have a driveway? Lucky bugger; nice yard too (I had to snoop online). I’m at 3701 sq ft and finding more reason to hate my two car driveway. It’s great for sidewalk chalk art though.

       —Thomas Cook    Jul. 10 '07 - 11:02PM    #
  29. The Huron River Watershed Council (with support from the Washtenaw County Drain Commissioner?) is now taking orders for rainbarrels to be delivered September 9. For more information, click here. They are 60 gallon rainbarrels and they sell for $75 each (regularly $115). Limit ten per household.

       —Juliew    Jul. 16 '07 - 09:35PM    #
  30. Word on the street is that Growing Hope also has rain barrels, $40-80 suggested donation on a sliding scale.

       —Chuck Warpehoski    Jul. 16 '07 - 09:53PM    #
  31. Murph’s comment [8] has some discussion of methods for dealing with mosquitoes. Included as an out-there-on-the-fringe solution is the possibility of keeping goldfish in the barrel … to eat any eggs laid on the surface. I heard second-hand that neighbor down the street apparently tried this out a few years ago and the experiment failed. Reason: a fly fisherman in full length waders kept hopping into the barr … I mean, the neighborhood cats found the gold fish to be fairly easy prey.

       —HD    Jul. 17 '07 - 12:39AM    #
  32. For those that want to buy them, the watershed council is doing a group purchase (@500) for prepaid orders ( For those that want to build one, Growing Hope recently put up their do it yourself flyer at
    Finding barrels has been the hard part – I am not sure how the Water Plant came to be referenced as a source for barrels. The Drain Commissioner is also a good source for Rain Garden information at

       —Matt Naud    Jul. 19 '07 - 03:19AM    #
  33. Great idea … but these look like garbage cans sitting on the side of your house. And for $75, I might just buy a garbage can instead.

       —abc    Jul. 19 '07 - 03:56PM    #
  34. abc wrote: “... I might just buy a garbage can instead”

    rainman’s post [27] suggests that items designed and manufactured as garbage cans—even extra heavy-duty ones—don’t meet the challenge of a few hundred pounds of water.

       —HD    Jul. 19 '07 - 05:06PM    #
  35. HD, that’s right. I think that a trash can will hold the water but in my experience at trying to be cheap, i found that once you drill holes in the thing, they start to lose structural stability. I went and looked at a rain barrel for sale at Downtown Home and Garden and the plastic is several times thicker than the thickest-walled trash cans i could find.

    That Huron River Watershed Coucil deal looks pretty great to me. Good product at a great price. Only thing is that they are being pretty cranky about the pickup requirements. On the website you have to pay now then they give you a 4-hour window one day in September to pick it up and then state that if you cannot pick it up at that time the rainbarrel is forfeited. Ouch.

       —rainman    Jul. 19 '07 - 06:46PM    #
  36. If you have gardens around your house, why do you need a rain barrell? Just attach a soaker hose to your downspout and put it where you want it. (You can buy these things for minimal cost at most hardware stores) All the run-off from our roof is used to water the garden and we also have a drain in the driveway that goes to a garden. It saves on water costs and keeps run-off away from your foundation.

       —Carol Serr    Aug. 7 '07 - 04:51AM    #
  37. Doesn’t the water eventually have to leave the rain barrel? Where does it go then?

       —Fred Zimmerman    Aug. 10 '07 - 05:53PM    #
  38. Fred: It would, theoretically, leave the rain barrel slowly, and not as part of a colossal rainstorm surge of dirty water that would overwhelm treatment facilities.

    Even better, the rain barrel water could be used to water plants and lawns, and make its way into the ground water rather than the sewer.

       —Larry Kestenbaum    Aug. 10 '07 - 06:02PM    #
  39. Incidentally, before I saw this thread I came across my stormwater information page at I was very gratified that I was able to move us from the third tier to the second tier by reporting that this summer we removed 1800 square feet of impermeable surface from our back yard and replaced it with grass. Kudos to the city for implementing the tiered system and for implementing the IT to make it easy to understand one’s place in the system. This would be a much less impressive project without the online component.

       —Fred Zimmerman    Aug. 10 '07 - 06:17PM    #
  40. “I was very gratified that I was able to move us from the third tier to the second tier … “


    Did you go through the appeal process by printing out the aerial view from the web user-interface and using a highlighter to indicate the change? And if so, was it a smooth process? Or is this something you’re still in the middle of?

       —HD    Aug. 10 '07 - 06:43PM    #
  41. Fred: Rain barrels usually have a spout at the bottom of the barrel that will allow you to attach a hose to use for whatever your imagination can come up with.

       —Alan    Aug. 10 '07 - 07:47PM    #
  42. HD — I just turned in my appeal with highlighter. I trust the process will be smooth since the city’s original data has me close to the border bwn 2d and 3d tiers and we subtracted a humungous # of square feet of imperv moving us well down into the 2d tier.

    We did this to help control water in our basement, are glad that it has this eco-friendly benefit.

       —Fred Zimmerman    Aug. 10 '07 - 08:19PM    #
  43. At least some of the impetus behind local interest in rain barrels can be attributed to Marilynn Rosenthal.

    She passed away just recently. There was quite a bit more to her life than rain barrels, as the obit from the A2 News attests:

    Marilynn Mae Rosenthal, beloved mother of Helen, mother-in-law of Carmen Marino and grandmother of Madeleine and Alexandra, died peacefully Thursday. She spent the last few weeks of her life surrounded by friends and family in her own home. The cause was cancer, she was 77. Marilynn achieved much during her lifetime, including authoring books on various areas of health policy; teaching students at the University of Michigan; leading students on international health policy courses in England, Sweden and China; founding and editing a coop nursery journal; and, most recently, initiating a rain barrel project in Ann Arbor. Marilynn earned her Ph. D. after raising her three children, writing her dissertation about rumor-control during the Detroit race riots in 1967. In short order, Marilynn won a Hopwood writing award and several years ago won a Fullbright Scholarship to study medical safety in England and Sweden. After “ retiring” from teaching at the U of M Dearborn Campus, she continued lecturing at the U of M Medical School, teaching premedical and medical students about the importance of patient safety. She founded the Michigan Health Policy Forum, an ongoing seminar series for faculty and scholars focusing on Health Care Finance, Quality and Access to Care. According to her granddaughter, she “... was not your typical grandmother. We made menorahs out of oranges, rode bikes together, and she lectured to us about history, current events and why we should drive hybrid cars. She had so many fun and interesting ideas for art projects.” The family will be sitting shiva on Thursday and Friday, August 16 and 17 from 5-7: 30 p. m. A celebration of her life will be held at the Michigan League in Ann Arbor on Sunday, August 19 at 9: 30 a. m. Arrangements entrusted to the Muehlig Funeral Chapel, Ann Arbor, MI.

       —HD    Aug. 21 '07 - 11:57PM    #
  44. Check out a great rain barrel product from They also sell kits to Organizations to build them in the Aquabarrel style. They also answered a lot of my newbie questions. I really liked the downspout diverter and downspout filter to keep the leaves out of the rain barrel I got from them.

       —Sue    Sep. 5 '07 - 09:22PM    #
  45. Any further thoughts about the new rate structure and how it is being applied? I’m curious as to how appeals came out.

       —Vivienne Armentrout    Oct. 18 '07 - 08:10PM    #
  46. We appealed and it was approved for the lower rate. They had marked an area of grass and trees as impervious and it clearly was not. I know there were hundreds, if not thousands of appeals. I assume many were more complicated than ours.

       —Juliew    Oct. 18 '07 - 09:12PM    #
  47. HD, Viviennne, etc …

    we finally got a letter approving our appeal last week. we submitted a google maps photo with highlighter correction, as requested. it took a few months to get the answer.

       —Fred Zimmerman    Oct. 23 '07 - 06:31PM    #
  48. Nice to hear appeals are getting handled, even if not instantly.

    I’ve drained the barrel three times since installation. After today’s filling will make four.

       —HD    Oct. 23 '07 - 06:41PM    #
  49. We did about 90% of our regular potted plant, hanging basket, and herb garden watering from our two rain barrels this summer. We have a third one yet to install which should get us up to 100% next year (barring a drought.) Filling the watering can repeatedly can take some time, but I just use that to pull weeds or pick up sticks or whatever. It’s actually a pleasant activity.

       —Steve Bean    Oct. 24 '07 - 12:31AM    #
  50. Where do I get a rain brrel at Ann arbor?


       —henry lu    Feb. 12 '08 - 02:51AM    #
  51. Henry,

    I know rain barrels are currently available at Downtown Home and Garden.

       —Juliew    Feb. 12 '08 - 03:24AM    #
  52. Growing Hope has also made some rain barrels out of recycled 40 gallon barrels and sells them for a fundraiser.

       —Chuck Warpehoski    Feb. 13 '08 - 08:09PM    #