Before summer’s heat sets in, plan ways to reduce your water consumption

Can you believe it? Summer is almost here. My plants are in the garden; my lawn is green; and best of all, no more snow!

Summer living is great, but it’s not always easy on the planet. Americans use more water than anyone else in the world, and that water use increases dramatically over the summer. So before summer is in full swing and it gets too hot, plan to reduce your and your family’s water consumption this year.

Here are a few ways you can have fun while conserving water:

Make saving water a game

Get the kids involved in saving water around the house. The habits children develop at an early age are more likely to stay with them throughout their lives. Rewarding children for conserving water is a great way to reinforce good habits. Give a sticker if you see your child turning off the water while brushing his/her teeth.

Letting children play in the (Photo provided)

Letting children play in the sprinkler when you water the lawn is one way to get creative while conserving water.

If you have a teenager, you know that they love having some extra spending money. Why not drop some money in a jar everytime he/she remembers to take a short shower (five minutes or less) or uses the same water glass all day? These little habits will save thousands of gallons of water over their lifetimes.

Send kids out on a hunt for leaks. Kentucky American Water has a great online guide for leak detection at home. Challenge the family to not use any water for two hours. During that time, have the kids check the water meter. If the dial moves at all, have them check all the faucets, spigots, under sinks, etc. for any signs of a leak. Give a prize to anyone who finds a leaky faucet or a drip under the sink. Fix these leaks ASAP.

When the weather isn’t conducive to outside activities, check out the water education games that are available online. has some great games for kids that teach them about many different water quality and water conservation topics.

Creatively water your lawn

Some of the largest wastes of water are from irrigation and watering our lawns and gardens, but we all know that there are times when the lawn NEEDS to be watered. When it’s time to water the lawn, here are some creative ways to multitask and reduce your water usage.

Let the kids play in the sprinkler. Allow kids to play water games in the yard. Just make sure to rotate the fun, so that one spot does not get over saturated.

Wash the dog outside. Fill up a kiddie pool or bucket outside. Give the dog a good wash. Then you can distribute the water you just used to wash the dog on the lawn.

 (Photo provided)Rain barrels collect soft rainwater, which plants love.

Wash your car on the lawn. By pulling the car into the grass before washing it, you are conserving water and helping to keep soap and grease from your vehicle out of the storm drains.

Install a rain barrel

Rain barrels collect soft rainwater, which plants love, and best of all, it’s free. The water saved in rain barrels can be used for watering flowers, gardens and lawns all through the summer, even in times of drought. However, the water should not be used for drinking or human consumption.

Installing a rain barrel benefits the environment and you. Using rainwater for watering will reduce your use of municipal water supplies, saving you money. For more information about rain barrels or to attend an upcoming Rain Barrel Workshop, check out our website.

If you want some more tips and ways to conserve water, check out the Bluegrass Greensource website or the Kentucky American Water website.

Ashley photo

Ashley Bryant Cheney is the green jobs coordinator for Bluegrass Greensource, connecting green businesses with a young workforce and preparing students for green careers in the Bluegrass. From Knoxville, she’s worked in volunteer and program management at various nonprofits. She has a bachelor’s in Psychology from Carson-Newman University and a master’s in Urban Studies and Community Development from Eastern University.

This article appeared in KY Forward on May 22, 2014.


Roll Out the Rain Barrels 2014


Bluegrass Greensource will host its 11th Annual Roll Out the Rain Barrels Reception from 5 – 8 p.m. on Friday, June 20th. The event will take place at the Fifth Third Bank Pavilion in Lexington’s Cheapside Park and, for the third year, will be a part of Gallery Hop.

The barrels are painted by local artists and serve as a reminder of the importance of proper stormwater management. They are seen by thousands of people throughout Central Kentucky, both in person and online. Visitors can cast an online vote for their favorite rain barrel and the artist who receives the most votes will win the coveted ‘Earth Artist Award.’

Join us for this year’s Roll Out the Rain Barrels Reception to see all of this year’s artistic rain barrels, meet the artists, buy a painted rain barrel, and enjoy live music from the Big Maracas.

Click here to view this year’s artistic rain barrels and to vote for your favorite!


Vote For Your Favorite Barrel


Bluegrass Greensource will host its 11th Annual Roll Out the Rain Barrels Reception from 5-8 p.m. on June 20th. The event will take place at the Fifth Third Bank Pavilion in Lexington’s Cheapside Park, and for the third year, will be a part of Gallery Hop.

Painted by local artists, the barrels serve as a reminder of the importance of proper stormwater management and are seen by thousands of people throughout Central Kentucky, both in person and online. Visitors can cast a vote for their favorite rain barrel and the artist who receives the most votes will win the coveted ‘Earth Artist Award.’

Join us at this year’s Roll Out the Rain Barrels Reception to see this year’s artistic rain barrels in person, meet the artists, buy a painted rain barrel and enjoy live music from the Big Maracas.

Resized Picture 1


To view and to vote for your favorite artistic rain barrel, click here.


This Earth Day, consider the small things you can do to help environment

April 22 marks the 44th annual Earth Day celebration. Earth Day events, held worldwide, demonstrate support for environmental protection. The first Earth Day saw 20 million Americans who peacefully demonstrated for environmental reform. Today it is coordinated by the Earth Day Network and is celebrated by more than 1 billion people in more than 192 countries.

1 earth day

Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson organized the first “national teach-in on the environment” after witnessing the 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, Calif. His goal was to bring environmental protection into focus. Within a year of the first event, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was formed. Before the EPA was formed there were no legal or regulatory mechanisms to protect our environment. After its formation it led to the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species acts.

As the world’s population continues to grow and our natural resources are stretched thin, it’s even more important to keep a watchful eye on the natural environment. Not all acts and participation must be large. Many small changes help to reduce our impact on the earth. Following is a list of small changes you can make this Earth Day to improve environmental health.

1. Buy local. Visit your local farmer’s market. Your food will be fresher and will have traveled fewer miles than the majority of foods found at your local grocer. Use the items you purchase to plan an Earth Day dinner serving locally grown food. Remember to take a reusable bag!

2. Compost your food waste. Food thrown into the trash ends up in a landfill. Food rinsed down the drain goes to a waste water treatment center where it is removed from the water and then sent to a landfill. By composting you save land space, save fuel energy from waste removal vehicles, and have a nutrient rich additive for your plants.

3. Attach a rain barrel to your home’s downspout. When structures are built they change the natural flow of rainwater, producing greater amounts of runoff. A rain barrel holds the water during a rain event and is available for later use.

4. Organize a litter cleanup. Litter is not only unsightly, it’s also detrimental to water quality. Litter left on the ground can be picked up by rainwater and swept into a stream or a storm drain, which discharges into a stream. By removing litter you are improving water quality and improving the appearance of your community.

5. Reduce gasoline consumption. Instead of using your vehicle for short trips, walk or ride a bike. Whenever possible, use public transportation. You will not only reduce the amount of gasoline being used (gas is made from a nonrenewable natural resource), you may also see an increase in your funds.

This is just a sampling of the small changes each individual can make to improve the environment. With a world of over 7 billion, individual actions add up. Small changes can make a big impact.

1 Pattie-Stivender

Pattie Stivender is the education outreach and volunteer coordinator for Bluegrass Greensource.

This article appeared in KY Forward on April 17, 2014.


Rain Barrel Reception has Rolled Out Until Next Year

For Website IIDespite the wind and the rain, many people came out to Bluegrass Greensource’s Roll Out the Rain Barrel Reception on Friday, June 20th at the Fifth Third Bank Pavilion. An excited group of supporters were on site to view the wonderful artistic rain barrels, mingle with our featured local artists and vote on their favorite rain barrel.



rain barrel reception for website


Music was provided by the Big Maracas for the event, local beer and wine was on hand and art teacher Miles Johnson, was also there to paint a rain barrel with the help of some of our youngest artists.



An original EnrAgustin for Websiteique Gonzalez painted rain barrel, portraying a beautiful peacock, was the hot raffle ticket item.  The winner of our on-site rain barrel vote was Nectar, painted by local artist Agustin Zarate and our over-all rain barrel vote winner was Down on the Farm, painted by local artist Roni Gilpin.



The funds raised will support Bluegrass Greensources’ many outreach programs which focus on water stewardship, energy conservation and waste/litter reduction. Another popular program, the Rain Barrel Workshops, illustrate the importance of water conservation and demonstrate how easy it is to make one of your own.

We would not have had such a successful without the support of our sponsors: Kentucky American Water, Stites & Harbison,  and Paint Solutions Auto Body,

For more information on our rain barrel programs, please contact Michelle at


Bluegrass Greensource’s annual artistic rain barrel contest crowns three barrel winners

Bluegrass Greensource has crowned three winners for their annual artistic rain barrel contest.

Online winner "When Roosters Cry" (Photo from BG)

Online winner “When Roosters Cry” (Photo from BG)

Stephen Wiggins won “fan favorite” for the online vote competition for his barrel called “When Roosters Cry.” This is Wiggins’ third consecutive year to win the online vote. During a reception and silent auction featuring 20 painted rain barrels, Stefan Hullinger’s barrel “Make Your Mark” was the “favorite” and Roni Gilpins’ barrel “Happy Cows” went for the highest price in the silent auction.
Reception favorite "Make Your Mark" (Photo by BG)

Reception favorite “Make Your Mark” (Photo by BG)

The annual event is intended to raise awareness about the importance of water stewardship while also raising funds to support Bluegrass Greensource’s environmental programs in Central Kentucky.

“This year’s competition was very exciting. People came from all over Central Kentucky to see the artists’ work in person and participate in competition,” said Amy Sohner, executive director of BG. “We are already looking forward to next year’s event.”
Highest silent auction bid "Happy Cows" (Photo by BG)

Highest silent auction bid “Happy Cows” (Photo by BG)

If interested in participating in next year’s rain barrel event, contact Michelle Patterson at 859-266-1572.

Bluegrass Greensource (formerly Bluegrass PRIDE) is an environmental non-profit organization that offers resources and educational information to foster positive environmental change. Founded in 2001, Greensource provides outreach to schools, community groups, businesses, local government and the citizens in Central Kentucky.

This article appeared in KY Forward on August 14, 2013.


When it rains, it pours … carrying everything with it into our streams

If you are reading this, you have obviously survived the Fourth of July deluge. As you probably know, we received the same amount of rain in a few days that we usually do in the whole month of July. This, of course, ruined many Independence Day barbecues and rained on our beloved parade and downtown festivities. I say beloved, because to me, they really are.

I love the Fourth of July. I mostly love the parade and everything that surrounds it. I love that I have been going to downtown Lexington on July 4 since I was in college, and I still find it as entertaining as ever, even with two kids in tow. I love that even though I lived for a while in Seattle and Scotland, there was nothing to compare to my memories of the Fourth in Lexington (OK, so I guess Scotland does not really count). This year was the first that I stayed indoors, and I definitely did not love that.
water wise bug

One of the hazards of my job is seeing everything in terms of how it affects our environment. So, while I was at a friend’s house who was managing to entertain 20-plus adults and 10-plus antsy kids who were unable to watch fireworks, I spent some of the time thinking about the rivers of water going down our streets.
As many of you know (but not enough according to a survey done by the city of Lexington), everything that is on the ground ends up in our water. The water that our kids play in (if lucky enough to live by a creek), the water we drink and the water that gives a home to many different fish and animal species. So that means that litter, cigarette butts, pet waste, oil from leaky cars, and excess lawn chemicals all end up, untreated, in our local streams.
Everything we do affects water quality. That is a pretty powerful statement, but there is a lot of good that can come from that power. Some of the things that we can do to positively affect our local streams are to NOT do things. Do NOT litter, do NOT throw cigarette butts on the ground and do NOT pour anything down storm drains. But, because Bluegrass Greensource aims to be a positive organization, let’s mention some of the things you CAN do!
1 barrel

Catch the rain
Rain barrels (find out more here) hold 55 gallons of water from rain on your property. That means that those 55 gallons will not pick up the extra pet waste or lawn chemicals and bring them to your neighborhood creek. Rain barrels are easy to install, easy to maintain and easy to buy (or make.Contact Greensource to find out about the next rain barrel workshop or for information about buying rain barrels).


Spread the word
You may have noticed the various kinds of storm drain paintings around your community. Some are simple stencils that say “Dump no waste, Drains to Stream,” and some are the more elaborate and beautifully decorated storm drains done by the talented Blake Eames. Stay tuned, because Bluegrass Greensource will soon announce the winner of our very own storm drain stencil design competition. We have a handful of design firms competing to have their stencil chosen to be placed throughout Central Kentucky and to potentially become the new icon for water quality. However, it is done, if you know a group who is interested in painting on city streets in the name of water quality, let me know!
2 barrel

Plant it
Water that falls on your property can also run off with some of your soil. Erosion is one of the major causes of pollution in Kentucky and throughout the United States. Bare spots in your yard, as well as improperly maintained construction sites, can be major contributors to sediment in water.
In addition, don’t forget the benefits of rain gardens. Rain gardens (find out more here) are planted, usually with native plants, in depressions in your yard and are designed to hold water for 24 for 48 hours after a rain event. This allows the water to soak in instead of running off with the pollutants.
What other way to celebrate our great country than by protecting our waterways, especially now that you have the resources to implement small changes that can make a big impact. I won’t miss the parade again, but maybe I will take my girls to the creek to celebrate before heading downtown next year.
Amy Sohner is executive director of Greensource and a graduate of the University of Kentucky in Natural Resource Conservation and Management. Sohner has worked with Greensource since its inception in 2002 and is a Certified Environmental Educator. She is involved with the Kentucky Environmental Literacy Alliance, the Bluegrass Rain Garden Alliance, the Licking and Kentucky River Basin Teams, and serves as vice-chair of the Keep Lexington Beautiful Commission. Sohner lives near the Kentucky River palisades with her husband, two daughters and a multitude of pets.

This article appeared in KY Forward on July 11, 2013.


Rain Barrel Workshop


Bluegrass Greensource will be hosting a series of rain barrel workshops sponsored by Kentucky American Water. These workshops are free to the public and are limited to one barrel per person. Registration is required due to limited availability. All you need is a drill and a jigsaw and at the end you get to take home your very own rain barrel.  Extra tools will be provided.

Upcoming Workshops

Bourbon County Rain Barrel Workshop

Sponsored By: Kentucky American Water

When: Tuesday, June 25th at 6 pm

Where: Community Room, Paris-Bourbon County Library

To register for this event, please go here.

The workshop will be held at the Paris-Bourbon County Library located at 701 High St in Paris KY. For questions or further information please contact Michelle Patterson at Bluegrass Greensource, 859-266-1572.

Clark County Rain Barrel Workshops

Sponsored By: (add KAW logo here)

When: Saturday, June 29th at 9am and 11am

Where: Clark County Extension office

To register for this event please go herePlease note there are separate registrations for the 9am and 11am workshops. The workshop will be held at the Clark County Extension Office located at 1400 Fortune Drive in Winchester. For further information please contact Michelle Patterson at Bluegrass Greensource, 859-266-1572.