Water Barrels for Rockville?

Erik Read is collecting responses from candidates on a few different issues and I thought I’d respond to them here.  His first question is:

Question 1: Potable municipal water is becoming more expensive to provide to the citizens of Rockville due to several factors. Much of the potable water is used for lawn and garden maintenance when untreated water would suffice. Amazingly, rainfall running off our roofs can be used for such watering if it can be collected and stored. Unfortunately for me, my Home Owners Association has a rule prohibiting the installation of rain barrels. As a city council member how would you ensure that rain barrels cannot be barred by HOA rules? Conversely, if you oppose rain barrels, please explain why.

I’m delighted that you’re interested in conserving water through the use of rain barrels.  I’m working on installing one or two myself at my home in Twinbrook after taking a free class through the City of Rockville and have examined the various options presented as demonstration projects at the Senior Center and Croydon Creek Nature Center.  I regret that your HOA doesn’t allow rain barrels and I would strongly encourage them to reconsider.  I’m sure they’re concerned about the appearance, but they can be attractively installed or screened. I would have to find out, however, if the City of Rockville can override HOAs in this area.  Strangely (at least coming from California) Maryland state law does not give cities as much independence as you’d expect (especially when you are inside the M-NCPPD).  Rockville may be celebrating its 150th anniversary next year, but it only achieved Home Rule in 1955.  If it can, I would require HOAs to develop guidelines to permit rain barrels, as well as other alternative energy sources, such as solar panels (which I think county law just recently required).

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