get a rebate for a rain barrel to reduce polluted water in our rivers?

DO YOU WANT TO

1. Learn about this resource. 

Residents can receive a rebate when they help reduce polluted water from getting into our rivers by installing rain barrels at a residential building, commercial building, or community space in DC. Rain barrels catch and store the rainwater running off your rooftop to water your garden or wash your car. We—DC Government—offer a one-time rebate of $2 per gallon up to the cost of your rain barrel (not including tax and shipping). For example, if you install a rain barrel that holds 50 gallons, you could get up to a $100 rebate. Your barrel must hold at least 50 gallons, and you can receive a rebate for multiple barrels at the same property up to $1,000 total for each property.

 

This program is called RiverSmart Rebates and is offered by the Department of Energy & Environment, in partnership with Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, a local nonprofit.

2. Check if you are eligible.

You are eligible if you own or rent a residential building, commercial building, or community space in DC. You don’t need to live in DC to apply, as long as the property you’re applying for is in DC.

3. Apply.


  1. Start by figuring out the best location, volume, and type of barrel for your property following the guidance in our rain barrel guide. You’ll need to consider how you would use the stored water, where to send the overflow, and how to care for the barrel. If you have any questions about placement or type of barrel, contact Queen Richardson ( qrichardson@allianceforthebay.org) at the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, our local nonprofit partner, for help!
  2. Purchase a barrel that meets the criteria in our rain barrel guide. For example, it must hold at least 50 gallons and cannot be see-through (we don’t want the sun shining through!). The guide also includes several pre-approved barrels. You are not required to purchase a barrel off this list, but we hope the list helps as you start your barrel search! Remember to keep your purchase receipt for the rebate application.
  3. Take photos of the installation location without the barrel.
  4. Install the barrel yourself or hire a recommended installer. Installation costs are not included in the rebate.
  5. Take photos of the installed barrel that show that the barrel meets all the criteria in our rain barrel guide.
  6. Complete an application form and maintenance agreement for each barrel you install on your property. We include a form in the application packet for you to apply for a discount on your DC Water bill, called RiverSmart Rewards, at the same time.
  7. Email your application, maintenance agreement, receipt, before photos, and after photos to Queen Richardson ( qrichardson@allianceforthebay.org).
You can apply within one year of the date on the receipt for your barrel.





4. Gather more information.

What happens after I apply?


  1. Within two weeks, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay will email you if your application is approved.
  2. If funds are available right away, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay will mail you a check for your rebate at the address in your application within 2-6 weeks. If funds aren’t available when you apply, you’ll receive your rebate when funds become available (usually in November of each year).
  3. You maintain and care for the barrel. Clean your barrel filters, keep it empty in the winter, and use the stored water regularly, following our maintenance guidance. Your barrel needs regular attention to make sure it’s working correctly.
If you are not approved, we will let you know by email within two weeks of your application. We’ll let you know what changes you can make to the installation for your application to be approved. Then, you’ll need to send in photos of the changes for us to approve your application.




Are there any additional requirements I should know about?


In the specific cases below, you should contact us before you install the barrel to confirm it meets all the criteria.

  • If you are building your own barrel, email a design sketch and your receipt for the parts to Queen Richardson ( qrichardson@allianceforthebay.org) before you start building. We’ll make sure your barrel meets all the requirements for a rebate.
  • If you want to install a rainwater cistern, email Queen Richardson ( qrichardson@allianceforthebay.org) with details of the cistern you’re planning to purchase before you buy it. Cisterns are larger than typical rain barrels, and while barrels are almost always installed above ground, a cistern may be installed above or below ground. We’ll check that your cistern meets the requirements for a rebate.




Who should I contact if I have questions?


First, take a look at the frequently asked questions at the bottom of the page. If you still have questions, please reach out to Queen Richardson at Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay at (202) 910-9796. Or you can email us at qrichardson@allianceforthebay.org with the subject line “Rain Barrel Rebate Question.” Include your before photos and your receipt for the barrel if you’d like us to confirm you’ve met the criteria for a rebate. If you would like to talk to someone in DC Government about the program, please reach out to our RiverSmart Homes team at (202) 535-2252, Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm Or, you can email us at riversmarthomes@dc.gov using the subject line “Rain Barrel Rebate Question.”




I still need help making my home more environmentally friendly. What should I do?


You can find information about other resources that help make your home more environmentally friendly.




Frequently Asked Questions


Where should I buy a barrel? Most of the pre-approved barrels listed in our rain barrel guide are available online. Many local hardware stores also carry rain barrels or can have them special ordered and delivered within a few days. Annie’s Ace Hardware in Petworth ( 202-726-2658) and Brookland ( 202-529-2658) offer pre-approved barrels, diverter kits, and more. Can I get help installing my rain barrel or other qualifying green projects, like a shade tree or rain garden? Maybe! Our RiverSmart Homes program reduced prices and installation assistance for rain barrels, trees, rain gardens, and bayscaping. You may be eligible if you own a single-family home (or a building with four or fewer units). You pay $50-70 per rain barrel, depending on the type of barrel, and we cover the rest, including installation. RiverSmart Homes only offers a limited number of barrel types and will only cover two barrels on each property. RiverSmart Rebates is open to any property owner, including residential, commercial, and community space. It might be a better fit for you than RiverSmart Homes if you prefer to:

  • choose from any barrel that meets the requirements in our rain barrel guide or build your own
  • avoid long wait times to be assigned to an installer
  • select your own installer or install it yourself
I’d like to get a rebate for other green projects, like a shade tree or rain garden. What should I do? When you install qualifying green projects on your own or with an installer you choose, you can receive a rebate from us—DC Government. The eligibility criteria, application process, and amount of rebate vary depending on the type of project, and you may need to apply before installation. You can learn more about the projects we offer rebates for:
  • Green roofs to support the growth of plants that retain rainwater
  • Permeable surfaces to capture and temporarily store rainwater instead of a regular asphalt or concrete surface
  • Rain gardens or another engineered garden system to filter pollution out of rainwater
  • Shade trees to help retain rainwater in the soil
Can I get any other financial assistance for installing a rain barrel? Yes! When you apply for this program, we’ll help you apply for a discount on your DC Water bill, called RiverSmart Rewards. This discount is for property owners who prevent runoff on their property with qualifying green projects, like rain barrels. How do these green projects help the city of DC? Green projects, like rain barrels, rain gardens, and shade trees, help reduce the amount of polluted rainwater running off your property and into your rivers. This helps us protect the Anacostia River, Potomac River, and Rock Creek from harmful pollution. Can I try to reapply for the program if I am not approved? Yes. You can reapply for a rebate if you believe changes to your situation might make you eligible. If you’re approved but funds aren’t available when you apply, you don’t need to reapply. We’ll mail you your rebate when funds become available (usually in November of each year). I need more water pressure to move the stored water from the barrel to where I’m using it. What should I do? You need additional pressure to move stored water from the barrel to wherever you’re using it, like your garden or driveway. You can attach a pump to your barrel to increase the water pressure. Examples of pumps you might consider, including solar-powered pumps, can be found at Aquabarrel, Algreen, or Home Depot.




Do all eligible applicants receive the rebate?


Yes. As long as your rain barrel meets all of the requirements listed in our rain barrel guide, you’ll get a rebate.





This resource is provided by:

Keywords: homeowners, renters, business owners, community-based organizations, religious institutions, green home, manage rainwater, sustainability, reduce pollution, polluted water, conservation, conserve water, save water, refund, discount

This page was last updated May 2021.

Department of Energy and Environment