So at the direction of my lovely wife, who is our household’s environmentalist-in-chief, I went to the rain Bronx rain barrel giveaway in Pelham Bay Park with a neighbor last Saturday. The giveaway is organized by the city's Department of Environmental Protection.
Rain barrels capture storm water from your roof that you can store for garden and lawn use. It helps homeowners save on their water bills and keeps the water from flooding the city’s already burdened combined sewer overflow system.
When we arrived at 9 a.m. – the start time – we saw a long line of dejected, aspiring rain savers (some of whom had been there since 6:30 a.m.), and we were quickly informed that there were no more left and the dozen or so that we could see still waiting for an owner had been reserved by those disappointed last year.
As we went back to my car I saw Council Member Jimmy Vacca (Pelham Bay Park is in his district) talking to people still waiting in line just in the hopes that some of those reserved barrels would go unclaimed or to put their name on the waiting list for next year. He had his cell phone out, hoping to find someone in the vast city bureaucracy who could rain down some more barrels on his constituents.
So, what’s the deal? Why the shortfall?
Well, there were only 100 barrels being given away that day. (Note to DEP: Might be useful to include that in your notices in a borough of 1.3 million people. Would've helped the environment by keeping people and their cars home.). And according to Mercedes Padilla, a DEP spokeswoman, 350 Bronxites added their name to the waiting to list for next year.
Now, this is the first year that the program is in the Bronx, but in 2008 the DEP gave out 750 barrels in just two Queens community districts.
Now, the Bronx doesn’t have as many one- and two-family homes as Queens but it does have thousands (we’re trying to get our hands on a ballpark number). A hundred barrels wouldn’t even suffice for a few blocks of homes in nearby Throgs Neck and Country Club.
So, consider this a brief BxNN editorial: Bronxites clearly care about saving water. The city wants them to. So, DEP, please order several hundred more barrels for next year’s giveaway in the borough. They will be well used and will help the city reach its green goals.