With rain in the forecast for the foreseeable future, the City of Santa Clara is using the time to let people know about its new rain barrel rebate program. Renters and homeowners that install a rain barrel can receive a rebate of up to $100. The rebate will be applied to the utility bill or sent as a check.
“This is essentially the next step,” said Mike Vasquez, Water & Sewer Utilities Compliance Manager for the City of Santa Clara. “This is more geared towards people who have done all the big steps — changing out your lawn, going to low-flow toilets.”
The City’s Water & Sewer Utilities Department has set aside $10,000 of its water conservation budget to help pay for the rebates this fiscal year. During the next budget cycle, the response to the program will be evaluated and the department will decide where to go from there.
To qualify, your rain barrel must meet a series of standards including holding a minimum of 50 gallons, having a proper overflow mechanism, and having a screen to prevent mosquito larvae from entering. You can find a full list of the requirements on Santa Clara’s website.
“We’re trying to avoid the trash can at the end of a gutter,” said Vasquez. “We’re looking at something that still functions in the correct way and still does the things your gutter is supposed to do at the end of the day; an effective rain barrel.”
The rain barrel program was approved by the City Council in March, giving the Water & Sewer Utilities Department enough time to create rules and guidelines before the rainy season. The program was launched in late October and has received a great response since.
So far, the City has approved one rebate and has a handful of others pending. It has also received more than 75 emails asking about the program and how to get started.
“Whenever somebody decides they want to go ahead and do this, the type of rain barrels they want to use is completely at their discretion,” said Vasquez.
Vasquez says the City is still looking for a local vendor to partner with, but right now he suggests searching Amazon and Google to find a rain barrel that fits your needs. Once the rain barrel is installed, you can apply for the rebate.
“When we developed this program, we looked at other programs and the negative feedback is that people really didn’t like inspections during business hours,” said Vasquez.
In response, the City added the option of sending in two pictures of the installed rain barrel instead of having a home inspection. The City also added two ways for the rebate to be paid: a water bill credit or a check in the mail. The options make it easier for renters to receive credit from the rain barrel program.
A full list of requirements for the program is available at www.santaclaraca.gov/waterrebates. The City has also set up a dedicated email address for questions about the program — it is firstname.lastname@example.org.