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Retain the Rain

We have been blessed with multiple rain events this August. As great as the rain is for our gardens and crops, we also see an increase in stormwater runoff fees and increased concern about contamination of water supplies and flooding. It makes sense to seek ways to reduce rainfall runoff from residential lots through different stormwater projects. Through River Action’s Retain the Rain program, we list multiple ways to reduce stormwater runoff and water contamination.

One way is by creating a rain garden or bioinfiltration system in your yard! These are shallow, landscaped, depressions used to promote absorption and infiltration of stormwater runoff. This management practice is very effective at removing pollutants and reducing the volume of runoff. Stormwater flows into the rain garden, ponds on the surface, and gradually infiltrates into the soil bed. Rain gardens are very visually pleasing with lots of beautiful plants that also provide shelter for many birds, insects, and butterflies! Plants usually consist of native, wetland, and prairie grasses, and wildflowers. Rain gardens are a great way to reduce stormwater runoff while also making your yard look beautiful!

Green rooftops are another way to retain stormwater. They are layers of living vegetation installed on top of buildings and houses. They help manage stormwater and contribute to improved water quality by retaining and filtering rainwater through the plant’s soil and root uptake zone. The water that leaves the roof is slowed, kept cooler, and is cleansed. Key considerations for a green roof include, structural loadbearing compacity of the building, plant selection, waterproofing, and draining of water storage systems. If a green roof is not quite in your budget, we have other less expensive ways to reduce runoff, like rain barrels!

Rain barrels effectively capture and store the runoff from small to moderate rain events. The water collected can then be used to irrigate lawns and gardens in between rain events. Rain barrels can cost between $150 - $250 at retail stores, but River Action sells 60-gallon rain barrels at our office for $100-$105 depending on your gutter size! While the volume of rain barrels will not substantially reduce flooding from large storms, it can reduce direct runoff from smaller storms and divert water from the combined sewer system.

Beyond rain gardens, green roofs, and rain barrels, you can also create a small native prairie in your yard or utilize porous pavement instead of normal concrete for your driveway. Stormwater runoff effects everyone, and if we all do our part, we will see cleaner water and a less overwhelmed sewer system after rain events. For more information, please visit riveraction.org/sustainability.