Local artists paint barrels for water conservation awareness

Sunday, December 20, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CST

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.

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Mark Foecking December 20, 2009 | 6:43 p.m.

"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."

An inch of rain on a small (500 sf) roof is about 300 gallons. On the typical McMansion 2000 sf roof it's about 1200 gallons. 55 gallons is only about 3% of that.


(Report Comment)
S sc December 20, 2009 | 7:28 p.m.
This comment has been removed.
Rebecca Spicer December 22, 2009 | 11:27 a.m.

I would like to apologize for any confusion regarding the quote about the information found in the Missouri River Communities Network rain barrel flier. That quote accompanies a chart on our brochure and makes more sense in context.

Furthermore, we understand that rain barrels are not a cure-all solution to runoff. Someone with a 2000 square foot roof should consider a multiple rain barrel system or a different system entirely. By my calculations, however, 55 gallons represents over 4.5% of a 1200 gallon runoff situation, and placing a rain barrel at each downspout (assuming 4) would actually capture up to 18% of the runoff during a one inch rain.

Lastly, Missouri River Communities Network has updated our rain barrels to include a wider overflow. We are constantly in the process of redesigning and updating our barrels.

Rebecca Spicer
Missouri River Communities Network

(Report Comment)
Jason Entermyer December 22, 2009 | 4:50 p.m.

Rainbarrells are excellent. I have a large roof and use three of them all in the backyard of my house. On heavy rains, they do overflow, but it only happened twice all last year. The best part is I saved just over $150 as I didn't have to water my backyard. I'm convinced.

(Report Comment)
Harvey Wilson December 22, 2009 | 11:58 p.m.

I collect 800 gallons around my house on rainy days. I have 55 gallon barrels and one 275 gallon container. I save bundles. Check out they have great prices and their rain barrel stands are awesume.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking December 23, 2009 | 9:59 a.m.

One consideration when using large barrels or tanks is diverting the first tenth of an inch or so. This is the dirtiest rainwater coming off of a roof, and it keeps a lot of the junk out of your tanks if you can do this. A smaller plastic tank with a drain valve and a standpipe in the middle of it can catch the first 30 or 40 gallons and let the rest overflow into the main tank. The junk builds up in the small tank and is more easily removed. I installed a 1650 gallon system at my new property with such diverters and they worked pretty well last summer.

Incidentally, that's where I was getting the 300 gallon number above, Rebecca. I divert about 60-80 gallons out of a 1 inch rain, leaving about 300 to fill the tanks for later use.


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