Rain Barrel Rebate

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Rain barrels capture rainwater from a roof and store it for later use such as irrigation for lawns, gardens, or indoor plants.

  • Why is the City offering rebates on rain barrels?
    • By capturing and storing rainwater for future use, households can potentially delay starting up irrigation systems for water efficient landscapes.  Also, because the rainwater is free it can help reduce water bills when used in lieu of traditional irrigation systems. 
  • How much is the rebate?
    • Rebates are issued as direct reimbursement or utility bill credit of up to $100.  Rain barrels must hold a minimum of 50 gallons. 
  • Who is eligible for the rebate?
    • Residential property owners and tenants with property owner approval are eligible for the rebate. 
As of March 20, 2018:  City of Santa Clara residents who purchase and install a rain barrel(s) are eligible for a rebate. Rebates are issued as a direct reimbursement or utility bill credit of up to $100 for a minimum 50 gallon barrel(s).   
Application label
Eligibility label
Design Checklist label
Operations label
Health & vector guidelines label
Term and conditions label

Rebate Eligibility and Process:

The rebate is for property owners or tenants of residential buildings only. 

To qualify for a rebate, a rain barrel must:

  • Hold a minimum of 50 gallons
  • Have an overflow mechanism that is directed away from buildings
  • Have a screened inlet to prevent debris and mosquito larvae from entering
  • Be algae and UV-resistant
  • Have a spigot within 3 inches of the bottom of the barrel
  • All requirements must be visible in photos submitted with rebate


  1. Review design checklist to determine location, volume, and barrel type  
  2. Purchase a barrel(s)
  3. Install the barrel(s)
  4. Submit your rebate application, receipt, and photographs

For Fastest Rebate Apply Online!!!

Review applicant guide below or request them by contacting the Water and Sewer Department at 408-615-2000 or at waterrebates@santaclaraca.gov

Design Checklist:

Choosing the Right Rain Barrel and Installation Site

There are many options for size, shape, volume, design and placement for your rain barrel.  Here are some factors to keep in mind when choosing a rain barrel and location for installation. 

  • Need for water – A landscaped area where the captured water can be used (and where it can be drained by gravity flow) should be located within a reasonable distance from the rain barrel(s). 
  • Ease of Use – The barrel should be at a higher elevation than the areas where the water will be used so that a garden hose can be used to empty it. 
  • Available space – A level, firm surface is needed to support a rain barrel(s) to prevent shifting or falling over.  A full 55-gallon rain barrel will weigh over 400lbs.  If your barrel is placed on a wood deck or porch, it must be structurally sound (as determined by an engineer) to support a full barrel.  Do not obstruct a walkway or electric or gas meters. 
  • Overflow – Direct the overflow away from the rain barrel, building foundation, and neighboring properties to a landscaped area able to absorb the overflow within 48 hours.  The diameter of the overflow pipe should be at least as wide as the inlet pipe so that once the barrel is full, excess water can exit the barrel at the same rate it enters the barrel.  Feel free to consult with us over overflow locations. 
  • Accessibility and Maintenance – Rain barrels do require some maintenance.  It is important to choose a placement location that is easy to access.  Also, easy access to the barrel’s filter will make routine maintenance easier. 

Design and Installation Checklist

When installing rain barrels you may want to consider the following criteria:

  • Do not use flexible piping, to prevent mosquito breeding in water that may pool in flexible pipes.  If irrigating edible landscapes, consider pipes and barrels that meet FDA food grade standards.
  • When designing the overflow path, remember that in heavy storms rain barrels will overflow.
  • There shall be no direct connection of any rain barrel and/or rainwater collection piping to any potable water pipe system.  Rainwater systems shall be completely separate from potable water piping systems.
  • Place the bottom of the barrel at a higher elevation than the landscape, to use gravity flow.
  • All rain barrels should have a screen to ensure mosquitoes cannot enter.

For more information please contact the Water and Sewer Department to 408-615-2000 or at waterrebates@santaclaraca.gov.  

Roof Area (sq. ft.) Suggested Number of 50 Gallon Rain Barrels
 up to 750  1-2
 750-1250  2-3
 1250-1750  3-4
 1750-2250  4-5

Operation and Maintenance:

Annual Checklist

  • Every Rain Period – Use the water from the barrel on a permeable surface like a lawn or garden.  Direct the overflow to a rocky area to decrease the water’s speed and drain it evenly. 
  • Monthly – Remove Filter Debris - use owner’s manual to properly remove debris from filter screen. 
  • Seasonally – Spring: Transition barrel to collect.  Make certain to close the spigot on the rain capture device. 
  • Bi-Annually – Spring/Fall:  Gutter Maintenance.  Clean roof gutters and inspect the downspout leading to the barrel.  Make certain all connections are secure. 
  • Seasonally – Winter: Transition barrel to bypass.  Make certain keep the spigot open and turn your diverter dial to bypass.

Allow overflow to drain to your landscape or a rain garden.  Ensure that areas receiving overflow do not have standing water for more than 48 hours.

The low water pressure from a small rain barrel will not operate in-ground sprinkler or low-volume devices.  Consider using a soaker hose.

If using a soaker hose, remove the pressure-reducing washer to increase the water flow.

If the water is not needed for irrigation during the rainy season, consider releasing the water to a vegetated area between storms so the barrels will be empty to catch rain from the next storm.  This will help protect your watershed by reducing the quantity and speed of water entering local creeks during storms.  Install a spigot and drip tape to allow the rain barrel to slowly drain between storms.  You can store the water captured towards the end of the rainy season to irrigate your garden in the dry season. 

Heath and Vector Concerns:

Rain Barrels have many advantages, but there are a few health concerns and guidelines you should be made aware of when installing your rain barrel. 

Use directly on Landscaping only.  The City of Santa Clara requires that rain barrels must not be connected to any other water supply system, including sprinkler systems that are connected to your home’s water supply.  This is to prevent the water from your barrel, which is not treated, from mixing with the public water supply.  The best way to prevent use to a separate, dedicated garden hose or isolated drip irrigation system to the outlet of your barrel and use it for watering your landscaping directly.  Also, if you choose to fill your rain barrel with water from the garden house for storage and later use, never put the hose inside the barrel, as unintended suction can contaminate the water in your home and the public water supply. 

Only divert rainwater into the barrel.  Do not divert waste water from appliances or other sources to your barrel.  This water is considered “grey water” and can contain bacteria that will flourish inside the barrel over time.

Do not drink water from your rain barrel.  Water from your barrel is not safe to drink but is fine to water your yard.  It is not recommended to water vegetable gardens with your rain barrel water.  If you have asphalt or wooden shingles, use the harvested rainwater only for non-edible landscapes, unless the water is treated first.  Petroleum or other chemicals from these roofing materials can leach into the rain water.  Roofs with cement, clay, or metal surfaces are ideal for harvesting water for a wide variety of uses. 

Prevent Mosquitos.  Make sure your barrel has a tight-fitting, fine mesh screen at the point in which the water enters the barrel.  The screen should be maintained and checked on a regular basis.  This is to prevent your barrel from becoming a nesting site for mosquitos.  For additional vector prevention measures please contact Santa Clara County Vector Control District at 408-918-4770 or sccvector.org.

Terms and Conditions:

To qualify for the rain barrel rebate program:

  1. Rain barrel must be installed within the City of Santa Clara. 
  2. The rain barrel rebate application must be postmarked within 90 days of rain barrel purchase date.
  3. The original rain barrel purchase receipt must be included with the application. If applicant needs receipt(s) returned, they must enclosed self-addressed, stamped envelope with their application.
  4. Post-installation photographs must be included with the application. At least two clear photographs of barrel, taken from at least two directions, must be submitted, showing downspout connections, secured lid and overflow valve.
  5. Post-installation inspection may be required at the discretion of the Water and Sewer Utilities of the City of Santa Clara or local vector control agency.

All rebates are subject to availability of funds and are issued on a first come first serve basis.  The City of Santa Clara is not required to notify when funds are depleted. 

The City of Santa Clara reserve the right to deny a rebate to any applicant that does not meet the program requirements.

Rebate Amounts

Rebate amounts are up to $100 or the total cost of the rain barrel(s), whichever is less, for a minimum 50 gallons of storage capacity.

Rebates may take up to eight (8) weeks to process.

Limit of one rebate per single-family residential account, maximum amount of $100 total.

Rebates are issued direct reimbursement or utility bill credit only.  

Rain Barrel Requirements

Qualifying rain barrels(s) must be newly purchased, a minimum size of 50 gallons, and designed for the intended purpose of rain capture except self-made rain barrel systems, the rebate amount may be applied to the costs (before sales tax) associated with the purchase of accompanying accessories/hardware necessary for installing a rain barrel or modifying a downspout to connect a barrel (does not apply to new or replaced gutters or downspouts).

Rain barrel(s) must have a secure lid for child safety and rust-proof screening or sealed designs for vector control (mosquito, rodent) and debris control.

Rain barrel(s) must be algae and UV-resistant or specially constructed sun barriers must be used.

Rain barrel(s) must have spigot for hose within 3 inches of the bottom of the barrel.  


Rain barrel(s) must be connected to a rain gutter downspout, rain chain, or other e­ffective means of capturing concentrated flow from roofs or other impervious surfaces.

Rain barrel(s) must not be connected to the potable water system and collected rainwater must be utilized via hose or bucket only.

Rain barrel(s) must be placed on a solid and level foundation, such as concrete pad, pavers, or bricks for appropriate stability.

Rain barrel(s) must not block or restrict access to walkways or pathways, which may become a safety/emergency access issue.

Copper materials (including downspouts) are not allowed due to potential leaching concerns.

Overflow pipe from rain barrel(s) must be directed away from buildings and/or adjacent properties and may flow to landscape (preferred).

Manufacturer’s installation and maintenance instructions must be followed.

Rain barrel(s) must be maintained for a minimum of three years upon receipt of rebate, including ongoing maintenance to ensure that the barrel does not become a breeding site for mosquitoes and thereby a public health threat.

Participants must allow the City of Santa Clara to reference the project and use photos submitted with the application in outreach materials, and must respond to minimal requests for information about the project for purposes of Program reporting.

Disclaimer: The undersigned expressly agrees that the City of Santa Clara (the “City”): 1) may inspect all properties participating in the rain barrel rebate program, 2) does not guarantee the performance of any barrel, 3) does not warrant any barrel or installation to be free of defects, and 4) does not warrant the quality of workmanship, or the suitability of the premises or the barrel for the installation.  The undersigned further agrees to protect, defend, hold harmless and indemnify the City, its City Council, commissions, officers, employees, volunteers and agents from and against any claim, injury, liability, loss, cost, and/or expense or damage, including all costs and reasonable attorney’s fees in providing a defense to any claim arising therefrom, for which City shall become liable arising from or in any way connected with the barrel(s) and its (their) installation.  Applicant  has read, understands and agrees to the terms and conditions listed on the rain barrel rebate program application.  Applicant understands that installation of a qualifying rain barrel may not result in lower water bills.  The city reserves the right to change the terms of the incentive offer at any time. 

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