When it rains in urban areas, stormwater washes over streets, roofs, paved areas and other impervious surfaces, moving large volumes of water, sediment and pollution to sewers and adjoining water bodies. We can all help reduce this runoff and the pollution it carries by managing the rain that falls on our property. Visit three picnic shelters retrofitted with rain barrels, rain gardens, and a green roof to learn how to start harvesting your rain. Nearby, the five bays of the Marion Andrus Learning Center parking lot demonstrate the differences between impermeable and permeable paving and how these differences in combination with different landscaping styles affect the amount of runoff generated during rainfall.
A rain barrel is a simple, inexpensive and time-honored way to start managing your storm water. Water collected in a rain barrel or a set of linked rain barrels attached to the downspout of your house can be used to water plants, fill birdbaths, or for any other outdoor use.
Rain gardens are shallow depressions filled with shrubs, ornamental grasses, and flowering perennials that thrive in changing water levels. When sited and constructed properly, rain gardens are attractive plantings that capture and accumulate water from rooftops and other impermeable surfaces surrounding your home or garage. After a rainfall, water is detained in the rain garden up to 48 hours until it infiltrates or evaporates. The plants in the rain garden help to infiltrate the water and trap pollutants.
When a traditional impermeable roof that sheds rainfall is replaced with a green roof, the living carpet of plants on the green roof absorb large amounts of rainfall. The benefits of green roofs to buildings and communities are significant beyond storm water management; they reduce energy costs, improve air quality, mitigate heat island effects, and provide green space in urban areas.
Permeable, or porous, paving is a type of paving that allows rain and runoff to pass through paving and in to the ground below rather than being diverted to a drain for off site treatment. Porous paving systems protect surface water, recharge aquifers, reduce flooding and reduce the need for traditional storm sewer systems.