PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Long island homeowners were being asked to recycle the rain, not only for the environment but to help lower water bills.

The Town of North Hempstead started selling discounted barrels for homeowners to collect rain water. Resident Carmen Castro is one of the first. She’ll use collected rain to water her vegetable garden.

“If every person starts saving a little bit of water, then hopefully the next person will do it,” she told CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff.

On rainy days, the drops add up. One barrel placed under a home’s gutter can save almost 2,000 gallons every summer.

At the Clark Botanic Garden, they’ll water flowers and soak beds with recycled rain.

“The same way that kids are taught inside to turn off the water while they’re brushing their teeth or conserve water that way, we just doing the same thing outside but bringing it outdoors,” said horticulturist Ryan Torres.

Rain recycling not only lowers water bills, it also cuts down on runoff – rainwater from roofs and streets that runs into waterways carrying pollution, closing beaches and poisoning fish.

“The dirt and the sediment runs off into our bays. It creates a big issue and we spend millions of dollars cleaning our bays every year and this will really help,” said Francis Reid, a North Hempstead Town official.

If every resident of North Hempstead had a rain barrel, Long Island waterways would be spared a half a billion gallons of storm water runoff every season. Environmentalists contend that would make a difference.

The barrels cost homeowners $50 and are safe for children. They’re also covered with screens to keep mosquitoes out.

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