Rage for rain barrels fades even as drought returns

RALEIGH - Until about April, a 65-gallon rain barrel was the must-have tool to save water, fight drought and show the neighbors you're the greenest Earth dog on the block.Now the rain barrel looks like this year's Hula-Hoop.

Stores that sold 300 barrels a week last year are sitting on inventory and cutting prices. Rain barrels go for as little as $25 online -- down from the $100-plus price tag common in dry months.

"Oh, my gracious," said Lynn Ruck, who co-owns Rain Water Solutions in Raleigh, which makes and sells barrels. "It's just basically stopped off. We hope it's going to become a lifestyle rather than a weather pattern."

The best hope for sales is year-round eco-thinking -- or the slow return of the drought, now reaching the "severe" category across the Triangle.

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