DARIEN, Conn. -- Count Cindy Muskus as a fan of an Aquarion program that encourages conservation through the use of water barrels.
"You're going to love it," the Stamford resident said enthusiastically while waiting to pick up a barrel Saturday in Darien. "I got one last year, and I'm coming back for my second one."
She made her comments as she waited to pick up her 60-gallon water barrel in the parking lot at the Noroton Heights Train Station.
The barrels are supplied by SkyJuice New England, a New Hampshire-based company started more than a decade ago by Sharon England and business partner James Houle.
The program is run in partnership with water company Aquarion, which promotes the rain barrels to its customers, England said. Aquarion has customers in Bridgeport, part of Danbury, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk's 1st and 2nd Taxing Districts, Redding, part of Ridgefield, Stamford, Weston, Westport and Wilton.
The barrels cost $75 each and had to be ordered in advance through the Aquarion website. They come with everything needed to collect water, except a connection from a downspout to the barrel. England said the price tag for the barrel is lower than in stores.
"We don't charge much because we like to get it out in people's hands," she said. Buying a barrel without any hardware attached would cost $100, England said.
The barrels are recycled from companies importing olives and olive oil into the United States.
She arrived in New England to teach at the University of New Hampshire. Coming from Colorado where conserving is a necessity, she noticed that there were few water barrels around and decided to rectify by creating the company with Houle.
"I grew up in Colorado, where water is nonexistent, so we conserved all our water," England said. "When I came out here, no one was doing rain barrels so we decided to do it."
It's the second year the program has been available in Darien, England said. The partnership began with Aquarion in Trumbull three years ago.
Another happy customer was Andew Lopez, who drove down from New London, to pick up four barrels. Two are for his use with the other two for the FRESH Community Garden Center, operated by FRESH New London.
The barrels are not only a cost efficient way to water gardens, he said, but they also catch rainwater and reuses it. Otherwise, the water would just sweep away into the sewer system, Lopez said.
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