Rain Gardens are an excellent way for residents, businesses, and municipalities to manage stormwater on their properties. Rain gardens slow and soak up runoff from roofs, driveways, and parking lots. They help keep streams clean, beautifying properties at the same time.
The Eastern Delaware County Stormwater Collaborative (Stormwater Collaborative) and Pennsylvania Resources Council are in the midst of an initiative to construct rain gardens on both public and private lands. Spring 2015 educational workshops attracted 125 attendees interested in learning more about rain barrels, rain gardens, and other steps residents can take to help control stormwater runoff and pollution to our waterways.
The initiative includes funds for rain garden construction provided by the William Penn Foundation via a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant, and additional funding from the Ethel Sergeant Clark Smith Foundation and the Royal Bank of Canada as well as in-kind support in the form of staff time and equipment from the eight municipal members of the Stormwater Collaborative.
A framework was developed with the Haverford Environmental Advisory Committee (EAC) to target residential homeowners interested in constructing a rain garden on their property. Properties were identified in the fall of 2014. Each prospective property was visited by the rain garden team that consists of members of the Haverford EAC, the Stormwater Collaborative, the Pennsylvania Resources Council and the Haverford Township Parks Department. Properties were analyzed for suitability based on location and soils.
Rain garden construction has started! The first two rain gardens were installed the weekend of May 18th including a public garden at the Norwood Fire House and a private garden for a Mill Road resident in Haverford Township. The June construction schedule includes a Sharon Hill Borough rain garden and three private rain gardens in Haverford Township. Additional fall 2015 and spring 2016 construction is planned to meet or surpass the initiative’s goal of 5 public and 10 private rain gardens.
The rain garden construction framework will be transferred to the other municipalities within the Collaborative to create a trained team of knowledgeable volunteers who can assist private homeowners in constructing rain gardens. The Haverford EAC is a key supporter with its own program to create 100 rain gardens in the Township over the next 10 years.
The rain garden initiative is a great opportunity to engage private citizens, municipal staff, and elected officials. It is providing an avenue to seed private and public rain gardens into the eight Stormwater Collaborative municipalities, which in turn can be used to leverage further expansion of the rain garden footprint.
The program also helps municipalities meet their stormwater permit requirements, and will also support new pollutant reduction plans (PRP’s) just proposed by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, which are expected to require mandatory reductions in pollution to our waterways beginning in 2017. The bottom line is cleaner and healthier streams, greener landscape features that attract birds and butterflies, and attractive new garden features which are quickly becoming a popular landscaping practice.