BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The Somerset County Regional Center Partnership is using a grant from the New Jersey Water Supply Authority for the 2017 Raritan River Rain Barrel Rebate Program for homeowners in Bridgewater, Raritan and Somerville.

The program is now accepting applications for the seventh year of the program.

Rebates are available in the amount of $50 for rain barrels holding 40 to 70 gallons, and $100 for those holding more than $70 gallons. Rebates are also available for multiple rain barrels that meet all the criteria.

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According to a release, residential homeowners who have previously purchased rain barrels are still eligible for rebates. Those in the Peters Brook Watershed who purchased and installed rain barrels after July 1, 2011 are still eligible as long as documentation is provided.

Residents outside the watershed, but in the three municipalities, must have purchased the rain barrel after Jan. 1, 2014.

Rain barrels, the release said, provide homeowners with financial and ecological advantages by conserving water; easing stream erosion by reducing the volume of runoff entering streams and rivers during storms; and reducing pollutants from impervious surfaces.

In urban areas, the release said, rainwater runoff from hard surfaces flows into streams, depositing these pollutants.

According to the release, rain barrels must have a closed design or screen top; have a system to direct excess water away from the home’s foundation; have a spigot that is not higher than 3 inches from the bottom of the barrel; and must be made of a sturdy material and installed on a solid level base.

Homeowners, the release said, have to pledge to maintain the rain barrel for at least two years to be eligible for the rebate.

"A rain barrel is a simple and effective way of practicing environmental responsibility,” Troy Fischer, chair of the Somerset County Regional Center Partnership, said in the release. “Homeowners in the Regional Center communities have a unique opportunity to recoup their investment twice, once through the rebate and multiple times through re-use of rain water.”

Rebates, the release said, will be awarded on a first come, first served basis, and funding is limited.

For more information, visit www.regionalcenterpartnership.org, call 908-730-0270, ext. 233, or send an email to rainbarrel@raritanbasin.org.

The Somerset County Park Commission is supporting the program by including information on the website, www.somersetcountyparks.org.