Collecting, Conserving and Cleaning Local Water
The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States, and it is plagued by pollutants. After a storm, the water that runs off house rooftops can wash away pollutants on the ground, such as pet waste, motor oil, lawn fertilizers and chemicals, and carry them back to the Bay – making storm water runoff the fastest growing source of pollution to the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers.
Bowie, Maryland, USA
The Lions Step In
Since 2009, Lions in Bowie, Maryland, have been helping protect the Chesapeake Bay by providing the community with rain barrels used to collect storm water runoff. The rain barrels collect runoff from residents’ rooftops, and homeowners can use this water for their lawns and gardens. Not only do the rain barrels reduce the amount of runoff and pollution carried to the Bay, but they also help community members conserve water and save on their water bills.
The Bowie Lions sell rain barrels at the local farmers market, allowing them to raise funds while letting the community know about other projects and services in which they are involved. Every spring, the Lions team up with the city to sponsor a rain barrel workshop for the community – raising awareness about storm water runoff, explaining how a rain barrel can help and showing people how to use them.
A Safer, Cleaner Community
Many Bowie residents who originally purchased one rain barrel have come back for a second and third. Local artists even get involved by painting the rain barrels with bright colors or landscapes. Homeowners enjoy saving on their water bills and better maintaining their own lawn, in addition to contributing to the cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay. “The end result of our efforts will help protect our waterways for future generations,” said Bowie Lion Ronnie Cervenka.
Storm water runoff can have a negative impact on the Chesapeake Bay even from homes that are hundreds of miles away. Water can drain from ponds into rivers that flow into the Bay. There are even areas in New York that drain into the Chesapeake Bay. By raising awareness and implementing simple solutions like rain barrels, people can do their part to keep the water safe.
Tips and Tools
Make It Happen: Rain Barrels in Your Community
Why did the club get involved in this project? »
The city was looking for someone to start the Rain Barrel Program but didn’t want to go with a commercial company. The Lions volunteered to undertake the project.
How do you raise awareness about the project? »
We sell rain barrels at the local farmers market, where we can reach out to the community on a weekly basis and spread the word about the water issue as well as other Lions projects. We also sponsor a rain barrel workshop that is free to the public, and we have a phone line where people can call in and place an order for rain barrels.
What kinds of resources does it take to conserve and keep local water clean? »
This is not a one club, one city, one person project. This takes everybody. The more people we can get involved the quicker and easier it’ll be.
Any words of advice? »
This is a project that any club can undertake. Team up with your city, environmental groups and community leaders to sponsor rain barrel workshops. Spread the word.
"We try to do a little bit to show the kids to give back instead of just taking from the environment."
"We have to get the message out to residents, and the only way we can do that is by joining with the Lions club and other groups."
Bowie Watershed Manager
"I have grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and I want to keep the water safe for future generations."
Bowie Lions Club member