Vote online for rain barrel competition

ContributedLocal middle school students decorated these rain barrels as part of an environmental lesson. The public can vote for their favorites at www.surveymonkey.com/r/PXCX27J.

MERCER – The public can vote for their favorite decorated rain barrel from among those created by local students as part of an environmental lesson.

This past year, Mercer County Conservation District was awarded a grant through the state Department of Environmental Protection to teach t he county about non-point source pollution and stormwater management. The conservation district provided watershed programs last fall to interested school districts within Mercer County and led public backyard conservation programs in the spring about stormwater management and composting.

Mercer County Conservation District Environmental Education Coordinator Jacqueline McCullough, with assistance from Katie Nowland, an educator at Buhl Park in Hermitage, completed the in-school watershed programs. The lessons focused on concepts including everyone living downstream and the importance of maintaining water quality by not only caring for water, but also the surrounding lands. They discussed nonpoint source pollution and reinforced learning by providing an opportunity for the students to discover and explore watershed concepts with the 3D Enviroscape model. Thirteen public and private school districts within the county participated in the watershed lesson.

Of the 13, eight took part in the Mercer County middle school rain barrel competition: Commodore Perry, George Junior Republic, Hermitage, Jamestown, Lakeview, Sharon, St. Michael School and West Middlesex. This online voting competition is open and will conclude on Oct. 23. The winning school will be notified the following week and a prize awarded. To see the completed projects and vote, visit www.surveymonkey.com/r/PXCX27J.

Rain barrels are a great way to conserve water in your backyard. They collect and store rain water from a roof or other surface. They help to conserve water and slow down stormwater runoff during rain storms. Stormwater can carry dirt, oil, fertilizers, and other chemicals into local streams. In fact, stormwater run-off is one of the leading causes of pollution to our waterways. Limiting stormwater runoff helps to protect local water quality.

Rain barrel water can be used in a variety of ways. Although rain barrel water is not considered potable for humans to drink, it can be used for household chores such as watering flowers, gardens or lawns and washing vehicles.