2016 Rain Barrel Painting Contest Showcases Creativity, Conservation

Modified: April 29, 2016 1:12pm

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Rain Barrel contest

Kindergarten winners in the 2016 Rain Barrel Painting Contest with Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.

Erie County Department of Environment and Planning, Partners Present Fourth Annual Contest

“Rain Barrels – Every Drop Counts!” is contest theme; EC Environmental Management Council also presents Environmental Excellence Awards

ERIE COUNTY, NY— The Erie County Department of Environment and Planning (“ECDEP”), in conjunction with the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Buffalo, Inc., the Buffalo Sabres’ Green Team, the Western New York Stormwater Coalition, the Erie County Water Quality Committee, and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery today announced the winning entries in the 2016 Rain Barrel Painting Contest. Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz joined Albright-Knox Art Gallery Deputy Director Joe Lin-Hill, Director of Operations for the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Buffalo Pasquale “Pat” Greco, and representatives from the sponsoring organizations today at the Art Gallery to greet the contest participants and announce the winners.

The fourth annual contest included entries from 57 schools and organizations throughout Erie and Niagara counties, an increase of five entries from 2015, with each group painting a retrofitted syrup concentrate barrel provided by the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Buffalo, Inc. The 2016 contest theme was “Rain Barrels – Every Drop Counts!” and challenged entrants to interpret that theme in a vibrant, eye-catching way. Each year, the competition challenges entrants to learn more about stormwater pollution prevention and how it keeps pollutants out of our local waterways. Each rain barrel can save up to 1,000 gallons of water per year, with over 50,000 gallons of rain water saved annually from this project alone.

“Rain barrels are an excellent way to prevent stormwater 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,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “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.”

Prizes were awarded to the top entries in the kindergarten-4th grade category, middle school, and high school categories. Entries were scored by Erie County staff along with representatives from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, WNY Stormwater Coalition and WNY Sustainable Business Roundtable, Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Buffalo, Inc., Daemen College, WNY Prism, the Erie County Environmental Management Council, and the City of Buffalo, among others.

“The Albright-Knox Art Gallery is delighted to host this event for the County. We love to see the great work our teachers are doing in the classroom to excite and inspire their students. The marvelous works this event celebrates demonstrate art’s ability to engage students in diverse subjects and to enhance the learning process through creative expression,” said Joe Lin-Hill, Deputy Director of the museum.

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

Pat Greco, Director of Operations for the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Buffalo, added, "Throughout the Coca-Cola system, we are focused on water stewardship. Repurposing our syrup drums into rain barrels is just one way we can move closer to our water replenishment goal."

Prizes were awarded to the top barrels from Coca-Cola Bottling and from the Buffalo Sabres Green team. The top finishers in the 2016 Rain Barrel contest are:


Elementary Grades K-4:

  1. Wales Primary School (1st place $500 winner, Principal: Kimberly Morrison)
  2. Ledgeview Elementary School (2nd place $250 winner, Teacher: Kathryn Greene)
  3. Forest Elementary School (3rd place $100 winner, Teacher: Beth Aschbacher)
  4. Boston Valley Elementary School  (Honorable Mention, Teacher: Roseline Dufresne)


Middle School Grades 5-8:

  1. Mill Middle School (1st place $500 winner, Teacher: Alison Bozek)
  2. Amherst Middle School (2nd place $250 winner, Teacher: Bonnie Majda)
  3. Heim Middle School (3rd place $100 winner, Teacher: Denise Woods)
  4. Queen of Heaven School (Honorable Mention, Teacher: Kari Achatz)


    High School Grades 9-12:

  1. Eden Central School (1st place $500 winner, Teacher: Lisa Alessi Nicastro)
  2. Buffalo Academy of Science Charter School (2nd place $250 winner, Teacher: Adam Rivers)
  3. Tonawanda H.S. (3rd place $100 winner, Teacher: Elizabeth Randell)
  4. Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart (Honorable Mention, Teacher: Lisa Bonn)

Also joining the event was Anne Bergantz, Chair of the Erie County Environmental Management Council, to present the Council’s second annual Environmental Excellence Awards. These awards recognize exceptional projects carried out by municipal and non-profit organizations in Erie County that stand to have a significant and lasting positive impact on the natural environment. 2016 recipients include the Village of Depew, which invested in upgrades and systems to monitor its sanitary sewer system so that the Village could be more proactive, instead of reactive, in eliminating or decreasing overflows from their sanitary sewer system; the Village of Hamburg, which created a Tree Inventory and Tree Management Plan to help manage its natural resources; the Town of Tonawanda, which has incorporated stormwater management and household composting education into the Ken-Ton Garden Tour; the Tifft Nature Preserve, which has conducted a large-scale effort over the past six years to maintain and protect the tree canopy at the 264-acre refuge; and the Urban Habitat Project, which demonstrates how abandoned industrial land can be returned to an original state using nature’s ability to regenerate itself.


Background information: 

Stormwater is rain and snow melt that flows over hard, impervious surfaces like roof tops, 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 our waterways each time it rains.

A key to preventing stormwater 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 our rivers, streams, and lakes.


For more information:

On the Erie County Department of Environment & Planning, visit http://www2.erie.gov/environment/

On the Western New York Stormwater Coalition, visit 


On the Erie County Water Quality Committee, visit http://ecswcd.org/html/ecwqc.html

On the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Buffalo, Inc., visit http://cocacolabuffalo.com/