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Rain Barrel Contest

Rain water is a resource that benefits ALL OF US. 

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The Erie County Department of Environment & Planning (ECDEP) is proud to invite all schools or youth groups in Erie and Niagara counties to participate in a rain barrel painting contest with a theme focusing on stormwater pollution prevention or recycling rainwater.

What is a rain barrel?

A rain barrel collects and stores rain water from your roof that would otherwise flow across lawns, driveways, roads and parking lots – picking up dirt, oil, fertilizers, and other chemicals along the way before emptying into storm drains or streams.  The contest rain barrels are converted from donated 55-gallon food-grade drums.  

Why use a rain barrel?

Contaminated stormwater runoff is the #1 cause of pollution in our waterways.  Rain barrels help reduce the volume of runoff, and therefore its potential to convey pollutants.  Register your students today and help them learn more about how to protect water quality in our rivers, streams and lakes.

Contest Guidelines


Paint your rain barrel focusing on a theme of stormwater pollution prevention and/or recycling rainwater

  • Painted rain barrels will be judged according to three criteria: how well the design fits the theme, creativity, and neatness.
  • You will need to submit photographs of the front and back of your finished rain barrel for judging.


You will be provided with a 55 gallon syrup barrel that you will convert into a rain barrel and one rain barrel converter kit.

  • You will need to provide paint primer, brushes, various colors of acrylic paints for your design, and a clear topcoat. The coat of primer is required to provide a good, smooth surface for the paint to adhere to the plastic barrel.
  • You will also be responsible for installing, maintaining, and winterizing the rain barrel.  Detailed instructions will be provided. 
  • Barrels must have a clear topcoat applied to be eligible for prizes. The topcoat will prevent the paint from chipping and fading.


Registration Form

This event is limited based on availability of rain barrels. If submittal form fails, the contest limit has been reached.



A photo release form is required if any students are in the photos. Download the Photo Release Form

Submit Photos:

To submit photos, please fill out this photo submission online form.  Please name the files to be uploaded as indicated on the form.

All participating schools will retain their final painted rain barrels to use, donate or raffle as desired.

We encourage teachers to incorporate environmental lessons in the classroom wherever possible on conserving resources, recycling rainwater, stormwater pollution prevention, and reusing materials for a sustainable planet.

For further information or if you would like to receive emails about the Rain Barrel Painting Contest, please contact Mary MacSwan at

Previous Winners!