Burlington showcases art that helps the environment - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Burlington showcases art that helps the environment

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There's a new exhibit bringing artwork to downtown Burlington. The question is, what exactly is it all about?

"I sit next to one every day and I don't know what they are," said Sonia Santvoord, who works at kiosk on Church Street.

A few tourists seemed to get what these creative barrels are all about.

"Seems like a rain barrel, like collects the rain, seems like all of them are decorated really different," said Carrie Kaufman, a tourist.

"Uh, is it for rain? It is for rain!" said Evan O'Keefe, a student in Burlington.

Connecting the Drops is an exhibit presented by the Let It Rain Stormwater Program. The exhibit has brought together Vermont artists to create works of art that help the community. The goal is to improve the water quality in our lakes and streams by reducing the amount of water that hits the ground.

"Each one of those locations along College Street and up Church Street, when they collect water, that stops that water right there. So, rather than hitting the streetscape and running down the streetscape as fast as it can go, we slow it down," explained Phealan Fretz, the executive director of the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center.

Slow it down by storing it until plants and gardens around downtown are ready for more water. And when they are, the spigot is turned, and the water flows downhill to the rain gardens located at ECHO.

"We've created a series of rain gardens that capture water from both off of our upper deck and roof and process it right here at ECHO before it goes underground toward the lake," Fretz said.

The water is filtered through the gardens and an absorbent concrete before making its way back to Lake Champlain. The idea of the exhibit isn't to only help ECHO's rain garden, but to also encourage residents to create rain gardens of their own. And it looks like it's working.

"We just built raised beds for our plants, so that would actually be a good thing for us to look into doing, collecting rain water," Santvoord said.

The Let It Rain Stormwater Program also allows residents who are interested in their own rain garden system to apply for money to build their own, right at home. It may not be as creative as the barrels you'll see around downtown, but it will help slow down stormwater runoff.

To find out more about applying for your own rain garden system -- http://letitrainvt.org/

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