Local artists are invited to participate in the fifth annual Artistic Rain Barrel program. This year's project is sponsored by the Lincoln Children's Zoo and the Watershed Management Division of the City Public Works and Utilities Department. Applications are due January 23, 2013, and 25 artists will be chosen to paint rain barrels for a display at SouthPointe Pavilions shopping center.
Rain barrels are above-ground containers modified to receive, store and distribute rooftop runoff for non-drinking uses. The Artistic Rain Barrel program has raised more than $24,000 for community youth education programs. The 2013 proceeds will help fund the Zoo's environmental education programs.
"We invite people of all ages and skill levels to paint a rain barrel," said Ellen Wright, Environmental Health Educator in Watershed Management. "We've had amateur to professional artists create designs that inspire and connect the Lincoln community. We've also had groups like elementary classes participate. This project is a fun way to educate the public about the importance of managing stormwater runoff and to raise funds for a great cause."
Applications are available at the City website, lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: rain barrel), and at the City Watershed Management office, 901 N. 6th St. Applicants will be asked to include a short summary of the intended design. The chosen artists will be notified by January 23 and will have until March 8 to paint and return the barrels. Barrels will be displayed from March 18 to April 19 at SouthPointe Pavilions. Photos and more information will be posted on the City website.
New this year is a "Buy Now" feature that allows individuals to purchase a rain barrel anytime after March 18. The feature can be accessed from the Zoo website at lincolnzoo.org or by using a smart phone to scan the QR code displayed with each rain barrel. Those not purchased by Saturday, April 20 will be auctioned from 10 a.m. to noon that day at SouthPointe Pavilions.
The Environmental Protection Agency reports that stormwater runoff is a leading cause of water pollution. "The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality says 46 percent of local streams are impaired by polluted stormwater," Wright said. "Rain barrels are simple pollution solutions." In addition to using rain barrels, residents can help reduce polluted runoff by installing rain gardens, using lake-friendly fertilizers and removing pet waste.
For more information, contact Wright at 402-441-7075 or firstname.lastname@example.org.