Folks in Colorado Springs wondered why their rain barrel was consistently lower, especially after episodes of showers. Robbin Richards forwarded a circulating email that showed a thirsty bear enjoying a cool drink and a bath in the barrel. Rain barrels in England are called water butts and, similar to our barrels, they collect and store rainwater runoff from rooftops, gutters and downspouts. Rain barrels provide water conservation, reducing dependence on water mains. My father placed rain barrels at appropriate locations and also used an abandoned well for crop watering. Other examples of rainwater storage uses include washing machines, toilets, car washing and especially where water supplies are unavailable, expensive or of poor quality. In arid climates, the barrels store water during a rainy season for use during dry periods. Fastcast: Colder.