Cindy Sepucha painted the first rain barrel for the Boulder Barrel Project.

(Nathaniel Minor/CPR News)

This story originally aired Aug. 8, 2016.

The Colorado Legislature spent years fighting over 55-gallon rain barrels. But starting Wednesday the barrels can be used to collect rain for watering lawns and gardens or washing cars. Patti Mason is executive director of the Colorado U.S. Green Building Council. Here are her tips for setting up your own rain barrel system. She spoke to Colorado Matters Host Ryan Warner.

Six Tips For Setting Up A Rain Barrel System

Where can rain barrels be installed?
Rain barrels can only be installed at single-family homes and at multi-family dwellings with four or fewer units.

Do I need a permit?
No, Colorado law allows for two rain barrels for outdoor uses like watering your yard or garden, or washing your car.

Where can I get a barrel?
Mason says the 55-gallon barrels can be found at home improvement stores around the metro area. Only two barrels (totaling 110 gallons) can be used.

What about mosquitos?
Colorado law requires that all rain barrels have sealed lids. Barrels should also be completely emptied at least once a month. 

Can my homeowners association ban rain barrels?
No, a homeowners association must allow rain barrels. However, it can impose 'reasonable' aesthetic requirements, like placing barrels out of sight or prohibiting certain colors.

How much water could I expect to save using a rain barrel system?
Colorado State University says 110 gallons of water can irrigate approximately 180 square feet of area. The university also says users can expect to fill their barrels completely 10 to 15 times during a growing season.

The CSU Extension has much more information on rain barrel use.