River Forest residents can obtain free rain barrels now that the village has inked an intergovernmental agreement with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD).

In mid-September the village board OK’d a deal that will expand the community’s sustainability efforts. Residents who want to use rain for watering their plants or washing their cars have a means of storing it up – for free.

Rain barrels will soon be made available through the MWRD, which will supply each home with as many as four. They’ll be available in a variety of colors to boot.

Applications will be made available online and in person at village hall. Details on that process are being worked out, Village Administrator Eric Palm said. 

In addition to the barrels, homeowners will get connection hardware and instructions for installing, caring for and operating the equipment. Residents will be responsible for installing and maintaining the barrels. 

After one year homeowners who have the barrels will be surveyed to assess how the program is faring. 

 Rain barrels have been an effective means of flood prevention as they divert water that would usually go into the village sewer system. They also are an important way of conserving water, said Katie Brennan, president of the River Forest Parks Foundation, which serves as the village’s advisory panel on sustainability issues.

Snow removal

Meanwhile, some more intergovernmental cooperation will make traveling near schools and the public library easier when the snow starts flying.

The River Forest Park District will remove snow from the sidewalks around Centennial Park, the library and Roosevelt Middle School. That area encompasses Chicago Avenue on the north, Oak Avenue on the south, Jackson Avenue on the east and Lathrop Avenue on the west. 

The park district also will clear sidewalks in front of Willard Elementary School and the property around Constitution Park.

River Forest public works crews will salt the parking lots at Roosevelt, Willard and Lincoln schools once the department is notified that the lots have been plowed. 

If the lots run out of space to store snow, public works will haul it away. The village also will supply bulk rock salt to the park and school districts, if needed, at no cost. 

The proposal first came up during last year’s trustees’ goal-setting and had been in the works since the spring. The River Forest Village Board inked the intergovernmental agreement in September.

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