Monday, 5 August 2013

The City of Winnipeg: Can't it do anything right?

There is this thing called Water Wednesdays. I'm not sure how it started or exactly what it is, but I've see people tweeting about #WaterWednesday on Twitter for the past several weeks. From the 2 minutes and 40 seconds of research that I did, I have deduced that it involves weekly gatherings over the summer in Memorial Park aimed at promoting water stewardship.

Well, I am happy to proclaim that I am doing my part. At least I am trying to...

I have a small vegetable garden in my yard.

Proof: Beans from my garden

My intention has been to water it, not with a garden hose, but with rain water collected in my rain barrel.

The rain barrel I got from one of those mad one-day sales that the City of Winnipeg holds every spring. In an effort to encourage sustainable living practices, the city sells rain collection barrels and compost bins at a discount, but only for one day a year and at a few locations around the city. This results in massive lines as people wait, hoping the barrels and bins don't run out before they get their chance to buy one. If you miss your chance to get one that morning, you have to wait another whole year for the next sale (or go to a store and buy one for regular price, but honestly, who would do that?)

I was fortunately able to score a rain barrel in one of these sales, but here's the thing: it's a piece of shit.

A few days after a good solid rain this spring I went to draw water from the barrel, but there was none to be drawn. It was empty. How can that be, I thought. Then after the next rain I tried again, and again it was empty.

The problem: a big crack in the base of the barrel.

I was able to find time on a weekend some weeks later to wash out the barrel and fix the crack using some "fix-all" type of glue that I have.

That problem was resolved and the rain barrel once again filled up with water. And then one morning about a week later as I was walking to the garage, I saw this:

The weeds next to my rain barrel are doing very well this year.

If you can't make out the image, it is water gushing out of the side of my rain barrel.

I could fix this leak too, but the barrel is only 2 years old. How many more leaks will there be in year 3, 4 or 5? In addition, the lid to the barrel is cracking from UV damage and the overflow hose is getting brittle and cracking as well.

At first I blamed myself. Maybe I mistreated it somehow. Maybe I was supposed to rub lotion on it every morning to protect it from the sun or something. I was full of regret for having neglected this barrel in some way, until I found out that somebody else I know with the same City of Winnipeg rain barrel had the same sort of cracks appear in theirs as well.

From this, I can only conclude that the rain barrels are pieces of crap.

The city's heart might be in the right place when they hold their annual barrel and bin sale, but their execution is flawed, firstly by making it such a pain in the ass to get one, and secondly by selling faulty barrels.

This Wednesday, as you pause to reflect on our sustainable use of water, ponder this: the rain barrels that the city is selling us to conserve water and preserve the environment are all going to end up in a landfill as big plastic pieces of junk that never did their job.


Anonymous said...

The City provided me with a most excellent rain barrel although I had to buy a plastic spigot and small bit of hose.

Simply drill a small hole near the base of the City supplied recycling bin and insert the spigot and tighten up the retaining nut. Takes about 15 minutes of work, and there you'll have it - no waiting in lines or paying for crap.

What about the stuff that is destined for the recycling bin? Toss it in the garbage bin.

I've found with a bit of planning I can fit all my trash, recycleable material, and even the yard waste into one bin with the odd bit of excess fitting neatly into the neighbours bins.

Curtis Brown said...

I have two of these in my yard now, and they both work just fine. No cracks, no weathering, nothing. Yours must be defective - maybe call 311 and see if you can exchange it?

Jeremie Robin said...

I noticed the same thing on my exact same barrels this year. Both of them! I fixed one crack only for another to appear. I've only had mine for 2 years as well. Sucks! If they had said (only good for two summers) I may have reconsidered paying the "discounted" price of 50$ ea.

cherenkov said...

Thank you for corroborating my story, Jeremie. I don't know how Curtis got his magic non-cracking barrels.

Anon: I guess that's a solution ...

Robert-Falcon Ouellette said...

water weds is about Aboriginal peoples ways of seeing and respecting water. there is a political aspect to it, but also the idea of spiritual and all people need to take care of the water, to protect it, look after it for everyone.

Curtis Brown said...

My wife got them. Had I picked them up, I'm sure they would have fallen apart on the way home.

cherenkov said...

Thanks for the info R-F.

The first link on the blog goes to which also has more info.

wasting away said...

three of my four City water barrels are cracking and leaking. POS is right.

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