Monday, February 21, 2011
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IDOT rolls out the rain barrels

School competition to promote water conservation, student creativity

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[February 21, 2011]  SPRINGFIELD -- The Illinois Department of Transportation announced last month that 45 lucky elementary schools will receive free rain barrels as part of a new contest promoting green and sustainable practices. The winners -- five schools from each of IDOT's nine statewide districts -- will be recognized during Earth Day celebrations in April.

"We constantly are searching for new and creative ways to encourage conservation and green construction practices," said Illinois Transportation Secretary Gary Hannig. "The IDOT Rain Barrel Design Competition is one way to get our youngest generation involved."

Starting Jan. 19, elementary school districts across the state received, via e-mail, a blank template of a rain barrel's exterior for the students to decorate. Winning entries will be chosen by IDOT based on which designs best promote water reuse. Creativity and artistic quality also will be considered. Schools interested in receiving more information can contact Steve Massey, IDOT's sustainable practices manager, at 815-434-8414 or The deadline for submissions is March 7.

Students who decorate and install their rain barrels will be acknowledged by IDOT during Earth Day festivities April 22.

The contest idea earned IDOT a Green Government Award from the Illinois Green Governments Coordinating Council at the annual Sustainable Government Symposium in Springfield in December. The award, based on demonstrating an exceptional commitment to improving the environmental quality of Illinois, was in the Water Quality & Conservation category.

Illinois Correctional Industries, a division of the Illinois Department of Corrections, as part of their expansive recycling programs, is donating the rain barrels -- previously used to store liquid hand soap -- at no cost to taxpayers.

[Text from Illinois Department of Transportation file]

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