DEP Distributes More Than 7,600 Free Rain Barrels to New York City Residents

November 22, 2023

60-gallon rain barrels capture stormwater, preventing it from entering sewer system—alleviating flooding and sewer backups, and protecting health of local waterways

Photos are available on DEP’s Flickr Page

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) partnered this summer with elected officials, community boards and neighborhood organizations to host more than 100 free giveaway events in all five boroughs to distribute 7,622 rain barrels to New Yorkers. The 60-gallon rain barrels are easy to install and connect directly to a property’s gutter or downspout to capture and store stormwater that falls on the rooftop. The water collected in the rain barrel reduces the amount of stormwater that enters the city’s sewer system, helping to alleviate flooding and sewer backups while also protecting the health of local waterways by lessening combined sewer overflows. Additionally, by storing rainwater and using it for outdoor chores, like watering a lawn or garden or washing a car, homeowners also reduce water consumption and save on water bills.

“Collecting stormwater that falls on a home’s roof eases pressure on the city’s sewer system, which, in turn, reduces localized street flooding and sewer backups, and improves the health of our waterways,” said DEP Commissioner Rohit T. Aggarwala. “Rain barrels also reduce water consumption needs during warmer months, which helps homeowners save money while practicing conservation and promoting sustainability.”

“These rain barrels serve a vital purpose, and help to reduce the amount of floodwater runoff that enters our sewage system, thereby decreasing the likelihood of flooding, while also saving homeowners on their water bills” said Council Member Joann Ariola. “I am very happy to have partnered with the DEP to get these rain barrels to my constituents, and I look forward to continued partnerships in the future.”

“I am tremendously pleased with the success of this season’s rain barrel giveaway program,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. “This year my office gave away rain barrels to many Queens families looking to help protect our environment and save money on their water bills. Congratulations to the DEP and Commissioner Aggarwala for spearheading another successful year of rain barrel giveaways.”

“New Yorkers embody unique productivity, skillfully leveraging tools to simplify their daily lives,” said Council Member Robert Holden. “It's an honor to team up with the DEP annually for rain barrel giveaways, enabling constituents to collect and repurpose stormwater wisely, all while lightening the load on our sewer system and championing water conservation.”

“I was happy to play my part in the Department of Environmental Protection’s rain barrel distribution. Any chance to provide cost saving tools for the homeowners of District 50 is a win in my book,” said Council Member David Carr. “We were able to hand out hundreds of these barrels to Staten Islanders through two events this year, and I look forward to this event annually as a chance to meet members of the community.”

“I am proud to partner with the DEP to distribute rain barrels to community members,” said Council Member Eric Dinowitz. “This incredibly popular effort is yet another way our city gets resources directly into the hands of our community members. I am grateful to DEP for this collaborative effort that helps reduce stress on our overtaxed combined sewer system, all while saving homeowners money.”

Rain barrels are just one tool that DEP is utilizing to help homeowners prepare for severe rainfall events. The agency continues to partner with elected officials to hold flood kit distribution events and information sessions around the city, supplying inflatable flood barriers, sump pumps and flood sensors. The information and tools provided at these events empower residents and business owners to protect their properties from the damaging effects of extreme weather. Rainfall Ready NYC outlines the shared responsibilities New Yorkers and city government can do to combat intense storms, together, today. DEP has also produced a homeowner’s guide with helpful tips on how homeowners can better protect their properties.

Disconnecting downspouts from the sewer system and diverting stormwater into a rain barrel benefits property owners as well because it helps prevent sewers from becoming overburdened during rain events, which can result in sewer backups into the basements of homes and businesses.

Using the water stored in a rain barrel also cuts down on water consumption, which helps homeowners save money—especially since outdoor chores can account for up to 40% of an average household’s water use during the summer. Each spring, DEP partners with elected officials to organize rain barrel distribution events in neighborhoods throughout the city. Each homeowner who obtains a free rain barrel through the giveaway program receives an installation kit and instructions. Installation of rain barrels is easy and they require little maintenance. Rain barrels should only be used for non-potable (non-drinking) purposes, such as gardening, and must be disconnected from the downspout during the winter months to avoid freezing.

About the NYC Department of Environmental Protection

DEP manages New York City’s water supply, providing approximately 1 billion gallons of high-quality drinking water each day to nearly 10 million residents, including 8.8 million in New York City. The water is delivered from a watershed that extends more than 125 miles from the city, comprising 19 reservoirs and three controlled lakes. Approximately 7,000 miles of water mains, tunnels and aqueducts bring water to homes and businesses throughout the five boroughs, and 7,500 miles of sewer lines and 96 pump stations take wastewater to 14 in-city treatment plants. DEP also protects the health and safety of New Yorkers by enforcing the Air and Noise Codes and asbestos rules. DEP has a robust capital program, with a planned $31 billion in investments over the next 10 years. For more information, visit, like us on Facebook, or follow us on X, formerly known as Twitter.