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Erie County, partners kick off May with colorful rain barrel competition

by jmaloni


Fri, May 1st 2015 04:10 pm
Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz addresses students, teachers and participants in the third annual `One Earth, One Chance - Save the Rain` rain barrel contest. Poloncarz is surrounded by the winning entries in the 2015 competition.
Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz addresses students, teachers and participants in the third annual "One Earth, One Chance - Save the Rain" rain barrel contest. Poloncarz is surrounded by the winning entries in the 2015 competition.

52 organizations submit creative, exciting barrels in 3rd annual competition

Poloncarz, officials present prizes to winners, recognize municipalities receiving 2015 Environmental Excellence Award

Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz was joined Friday by Deputy Erie County Executive Maria Whyte, Erie County Legislator Peter Savage (Third District), Albright Knox Art Gallery Director Dr. Janne Siren, City of Buffalo Common Council Member Michael LoCurto (Delaware District), Director of Operations of the Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Buffalo Pasquale "Pat" Greco, members of the Western New York Stormwater Coalition, the Erie County Water Quality Committee, and the Erie County Environmental Management Council at the Albright Knox Art Gallery to announce the winners of the 2015 "One Earth, One Chance - Save the Rain" rain barrel competition.

Now in its third year, the competition this year grew to 52 entries from schools, clubs and libraries around the area who submitted colorful rain barrels decorated in representations of this year' theme. Each year, the competition challenges entrants to learn more about storm water pollution prevention and how it keeps pollutants out of local waterways. The entrants' vibrant interpretations of each year's theme are painted on retrofitted syrup concentrate barrels provided by Coca-Cola Bottling Co., with prizes awarded to the top entries in the kindergarten-fourth grade category, middle-, and high-school categories. Entries were scored by the county executive along with other Erie County staff, and also with representatives from the Albright Knox Art Gallery, WNY Stormwater Coalition and WNY Sustainable Business Roundtable, Coca Cola and the City of Buffalo, among others.

"Rain barrels are an excellent way to prevent storm water runoff and preserve a precious natural resource for better use, they are easy to put in place, and as we see they can be colorful and creative additions to anyone's backyard," Poloncarz said. "As I said in my 'Initiatives for a Smart Economy' address, green infrastructure is critical in preventing pollution and protecting our environment. Residents and businesses alike are realizing this and taking steps to protect our environment and the legacy we leave behind. I want to thank the Department of Environment & Planning, Coca-Cola Bottling, the Albright Knox Art gallery, and all our partners for their work in raising awareness on this issue, especially with the younger generation."

Coca-Cola focuses on water stewardship through its "Live Positively" campaign, with investments in projects involving watershed protection and conservation taking precedence. By 2020, Coca-Cola intends to attain its goal of replenishing to nature and communities an amount of water equivalent to that used in their finished beverages.

"Since 2005, Coca-Cola has saved almost 7 billion gallons of water in the U.S. through water efficiency improvements in our manufacturing facilities and, since 2008, we have donated more than 70,000 ingredient drums for re-use as rain barrels," said Pat Greco, director of operations for Coca-Cola. "Water is an essential ingredient in all of our beverages and critical to the sustainability of our business. Through our continued partnership with the Erie County Department of Environment and Planning, today is a day for all of us to make a difference."

Prizes were awarded to the top barrels from Coca-Cola. The top finishers in the 2015 Rain Barrel contest are:

Kindergarten-fourth grade:

  • Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament (first place - $500; teacher - Fran Machowiak)
  • Ledgeview Elementary School (second place - $250; teacher - Kathryn Greene)
  • Buffalo Public School #27 Hillery Park (third place - $100; teacher - Polly Hart)
  • Cloverbank Elementary School (honorable mention; teacher - Juliet Szczerbacki)

Middle School:

  • Heim Middle School Art Class (first place - $500; teacher - Denise Woods)
  • Buffalo Public Community School #53 (second place - $250; teacher - Anna Leone)
  • Buffalo United Charter School (third place - $100; teacher - Connie Barlow)
  • Heim Middle School (honorable mention; teacher - Alison Bozek)

High School:

  • Springville Griffith High School Art Class (first place - $500; teacher - Eunice Reinhold)
  • Eden High School Art Class (second place - $250; teacher - Lisa Alessi Nicastro)
  • East Aurora High School Science Club (third place - $100; teacher - Larry Grisanti)
  • East High School (honorable mention; teacher - Lawrence Toole)

Also at today's event, four municipalities received certificates of accomplishment for earning the Erie County Environmental Management Council's Environmental Excellence Award for projects each has completed. Acting EMC Chair Anne Bergantz joined Poloncarz to present the certificates to representatives from each municipality. The EMC Environmental Excellence Awards were established this year to showcase municipal and not-for-profit projects that can be replicated in communities across Erie County and beyond.

The 2015 Environmental Excellence Award winners are:

  • City of Buffalo, Electronic Waste Recycling Program
  • Town of Aurora, Reading Road Ditch Reconfiguration
  • Town of Grand Island, The Woods Creek Living Shorelines Project
  • Village of Williamsville, Spring Street Streetscape and Green Infrastructure Project

Stormwater is rain and snowmelt that flows over hard, impervious surfaces like rooftops, driveways, streets and parking lots. Along the way, contaminants such as lawn chemicals, automotive fluids, pet waste and litter are collected. These pollutants end up in waterways each time it rains.

A key to preventing storm water pollution is to utilize green infrastructure solutions. Green infrastructure is a collection of practices that capture runoff and allow it to infiltrate the soil as nature intended. One easy and important green infrastructure practice is storing rainwater for re-use by using a rain barrel. Other methods include planting rain gardens to naturally soak up and filter the runoff, or simply disconnecting gutter downspouts from your home. Using these practices, thousands of gallons of storm runoff can be reduced, keeping pollutants out of rivers, streams and lakes.

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