COLUMBIA — Thirteen artists will paint rain barrels for a downtown exhibit that runs in March to highlight awareness of water quality.
"Everyone in Columbia lives in a watershed," said Julia Karll, coordinator of the event and member of the Missouri River Communities Network. "Everything from your yard eventually goes into a tributary."
A panel of judges from the Missouri River Communities Network approved the designs in early December.
Three barrels will be auctioned off during the second annual Rain Barrel Art Review on March 19. The event will include a barrel roll with live music, the auction and a raffle at Orr Street Studios at 106 Orr St.
Additional barrels will be auctioned off on eBay from March 19 to 29. Unpainted rain barrels can also be purchased.
Water quality in Hinkson Creek, which flows southwest through the city, is a local issue. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has labeled the creek "impaired due to unknown pollutants as it does not meet water quality standards."
It is a tributary for Perche Creek near Columbia's water treatment plant. The bottom half cuts through an urban region, which causes an increase in stormwater runoff from cement replacing natural ground.
Karll hopes to boost event participation by drawing in both the art community and those interested in environmental issues.
Carol Brown, a local textile artist, is a member of both of these communities and a barrel painter for the second year.
"Actions speak louder than words," she said.
As a mother of two, she said "volunteering for this will help them grow up to be better citizens."
She is designing a river ecosystem painting for one barrel in the exhibit. The painting will depict a variety of river animals including beavers, woodchucks and squirrels, among other creatures and plants.
"Our ultimate goal is the purchase and use of rain barrels in the community, to improve water quality in local streams and decrease stormwater runoff," said Steve Johnson, executive director of Missouri River Communities Network.
A 55-gallon rain barrel when connected to a house with a typical peaked roof and four gutter downspouts can collect about 25 percent of the rain water, according to a Missouri River Communities Network rain barrel flier.
"Rain barrels is an old technology somewhere in the past 60 years we quit using, we're kind of moving back that direction," Johnson said.
From August 2008 to August 2009, a total of 130 families bought rain barrels through the Missouri River Communities Network. The goal for this year is 500.