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The Village of Homewood Board of Trustees voted unanimously Tuesday, Aug. 9, to enter into an intergovernmental agreement with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) for free rain barrels for the community.

The rain barrels are being provided by the MWRD at no cost to the residents and the village.

Each Homewood residence is allowed up to four rain barrels with a choice of four colors. The barrels will be delivered to the households participating with instructions for installation.

In a memo to the board, Director of Public Works John Schaefer said the purpose of the program is to help reduce the amount of water entering the storm sewer system, reduce basement water backups, sewer infiltration and other flooding problems.

Rain barrels are designed to capture and store rainwater from the downspouts attached to a roof, capturing runoff that would normally flow into the storm water system and allowing individuals to reuse the water.

“Roofs comprise nearly 41 percent of the impervious surfaces in Cook County,” he said.

Rain barrels could potentially reduce participants’ water bills if they are used for watering grass and gardens, he added.

According to MWRD information about the program, water collected in the barrels is not suitable for drinking or bathing, but it can be used for outdoor activities, including gardening and washing vehicles and tools.

Trustees expressed support for the program.

“Rain barrels typically are costly,” Trustee Barb Dawkins said. “The opportunity to have four of them at no cost and to promote water conservation is fabulous.”

“I’ve been looking over the past few years to get some myself,” said Trustee Lisa Purcell.

Trustee Larry Burnson said, “I’ve had a lot of comments from the community on the rain barrel program. I think it’s a great thing.”

Mayor Richard Hofeld said the village would be publicizing the program. He urged residents to take advantage of the free offer.

The program ends Dec. 31.

The order forms will be available soon at the Village Hall, 2020 Chestnut Road. More details on the program can be found at the MWRD website.

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