Making a rain barrel

Courtesy photo The Blair County Conservation District held its first "Paint to Drip" session June 8 at the Providence Presbyterian Church in Altoona. Above are the finished products.

Repurposing rain water through the use of a water barrel offers a cascade of benefits according to area experts, and to encourage their use the Blair County Conserva-tion District presents three “Paint to Drip” sessions to turn nondescript plastic drums into works of art.

Local artist Sarah Vogel has donated her time to lead the painting portion of the workshops. Blair County Conservation District personnel explain how rain barrels influence water quality and how homeowners can help with stormwater runoff issues.

The first session featured a fruits and vegetables theme and was held June 8 at the Providence Presbyterian Church in Altoona.

Upcoming sessions will take place at the NatureWorksParks, Hollidaysburg, from 9 a.m. to about 1 p.m. July 10 with an Under the Sea theme; July 20, sunflower fields. The theme for July 24 is to be determined.

Registration is required. The cost is $35 per barrel with an additional $2 fee per attendee. Children under age 12 are free. Ten barrels are available per session and multiple people can work on one barrel due to the scope of the canvas.

Participants leave with a fully functioning painted rain barrel with a spout, overflow drain with hose, and a netted grate for bug control. If rain barrels aren’t dry when the session ends, storage will be available with designated pick up times.

The programs are made possible through a grant provided by Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts Project Stream. It’s the first time the county has received the grant, according to Chelsey Ergler, stormwater coordinator for the district. Each heavy-duty plastic drum holds 55 gallons. The drums were donated for reuse by DelGrosso’s in Tipton.

“The Paint to Drip workshops are set up like a freestyle paint party where the attendees will have an opportunity to paint their own rain barrels with some guidance and demonstrations provided by Sarah Vogel,” Ergler explained.

The painting session will be followed by refreshments and a learning session that will explain the importance and benefits of rain barrels.

Stormwater run off is a serious issue and the program goal is to capture residents’ interest, said agricultural ombudsman Beth Futrick, who works for the district throughout the state.

The district has been working with municipalities for the past several years to better control storm water run off and reduce pollution into the county’s 6,500 miles of streams.

While not suitable for consumption, the water collected in barrels is ideal for watering flower and vegetable gardens, especially in community gardens which may not have a nearby water supply. Additional uses include washing pets or vehicles. The water can be released into a bucket for those uses.

Rain barrels can be used after the final frost in the spring to the first frost in the fall — generally April to November, Futrick said.

For more information, call the conservation district at 696-0877, ext. 5; visit Facebook or the conservation office for more information.

Mirror Staff Writer Patt Keith is at 949-7030.