A Win-Win for water!
It’s raining this week where I live. How can we use all this water rushing into the storm drains and at the same time improve the quality of the water runs from our roofs, sidewalks, driveways and streets? This water picks up many pollutants as it races to our lakes and rivers. There are things we can do to lessen this pollution such as sweeping our driveways and sidewalks and not using chemicals on our lawns. A good way to clean this polluted run-off is to direct the water into a garden, a rain garden. Today as it rains I can see the water rush into my rain gardens where my deep-rooted plants help clean this water as it drains into the earth below. This past week I have been part of a team that installed two rain gardens. Both gardens captured water that would run into the Mississippi River. We had fun, and were thrilled we helped to “plant for clean water.”
What is a rain garden?
The water that runs off our houses sidewalks, driveways and streets contains pollutants that run directly into our streams and lakes. A rain garden captures this water and the plants in the garden actually purify the water filtering out the pollutants. Like a friend said, “It’s like magic!”
An aspect of climate change is we can go for months without any precipitation then watch out…. inundation, too much rain. Rain gardens are a valuable tool to use and manage the water that falls on our properties. The plants should not need to be watered so we conserve water
Advantages of rain gardens:
1. They conserve water by managing rainfall
2. Rain gardens filter out pollutants
3. Blooming plants add beauty to your yard
4. Rain gardens often use native plants that bees, birds and butterflies love.
Simple steps to creating a rain garden:
1. Remove the sod and dig a hole. It must be at least 10 feet from your house and where you can direct a drain-spout, driveway or sidewalk to drain rain water. Most rain garden holes are about 12 inches deep with wide 3 feet slanted sides surrounding the garden. The bottom of the garden should be flat.
2. Mix in about one inch of compost to the bottom and sides of your new garden
3. Cover the garden with a layer of several inches of double or triple shredded mulch.
4. Plant deep-rooted plants. Most of the plants you love will work matching the degree of sun and shade. Also, always work to have a variety of plants that bloom at different times for the bees and butterflies.The bottom plants need to be water tolerant. Some bottom plants I have used are: liatris, swamp milkweed, turtlehead, Culver’s root, blue flag iris, sensitive fern, cardinal-flower, blue lobelia and many kinds of sedges.
5.. Water–If it is dry, you need to water the new plants for the first couple of months.
And from National Geographic, other ways to conserve water
From the Washington Post on managing water in your yard.
Questions? Leave a comment
Most of us in the north county enjoy a beautiful snowfall, but hate ice. Even with a mild winter, there is thawing, refreezing and ice! As I walk through neighborhoods I see salt residue sitting on sidewalks and streets. Please sweep this up. The salt runs into our lakes and streams and is very harmful to fish and plant life. Highway departments, businesses and homeowners all need to be conscious of the salt they use. My local hardware store has a corn-based product they claim works well that is lake-friendly.
It takes only one teaspoon of road salt to permanently pollute 5 gallons of water. Once salt is in the water, there is no way to remove it. Salt harms fish, plant life and the over all quality of the lake or stream.
Suggestions to protect our lakes and waterways:
- Always shovel sidewalks and driveways.
- Remove ice on days when melting is occurring.
- Redirect your drain-spouts so they don’t drain on to the sidewalk. Capture water run-off in a rain-garden.
- Be safe, and try to avoid the ice in the first place which I know can be impossible. A tiny amount of salt can go a long way.
- Sweep up any salt after the ice melts!
- Check out great winter salt suggestions: https://www.wisaltwise.com/
Living in the land of Ten Thousand Lakes and having a love affair with Lake Superior, I know first hand that clean water is important! I think of the West Coast of the United States and their severe drought every time I turn on the faucet. Below are water saving ideas from me and The World Wildlife Federation. This is serious. Water will be the next “most valuable resource,” and our survival as a people depends on adequate sources of clean water.
My list gives you more specific action. Here are ideas to help you protect the earth’s fresh water:
1. Reduce or eliminate all your use of chemicals in cleaning agents, and lawn and garden products. Tough I know, Read on…
2. Baking soda and vinegar will clean almost anything. See my chemical free cleaner on my Reduce Chemicals Page: https://health4earth.com/reduce-chemicals/
3. Use plants in your yard that do not require chemicals(native plants) and reduce the size of your lawn. Native plants also don’t need to be watered! http://findnativeplants.com/
4. Install rain barrels under your drain spouts or put rain gardens in areas where your water drains. Use this water to water your plants.
5. Install a septic holding tank if your sewage does not drain into a public sewage system.
6. Purchase as many products you can afford that are organic or GMO free to reduce the amount of nitrates running into our lakes and streams.
7. Adopt a storm drain, keeping leaves, trash and yard waste from washing into our streams and lakes.
8. Never use cleaning materials that contain Triclosan. http://www.startribune.com/opinion/commentaries/251323351.html
9. Purchase products made from recycled materials. Recycled paper uses 60-70% less energy than virgin pulp and 55% less water.
And from The World Wildlife Federation:
We all can do something to help fresh water. This World Water Day, March 22, you too can take action. Here’s how:
Crowdsource Scientific Data
Next time you’re near a river, stream or lake, take and pictures of the freshwater fish you encounter and upload them for conservation scientists around the world.
Walk for Water
Join WWF, the State Department and other conservation organizations in a 6k Walk for Water on April 23 to learn more about freshwater issues and how they impact people and nature. While the main event will be held in the District of Columbia, people around the world will take the symbolic walk and share their experience with #6kWaterWalk. Want to learn more? Join freshwater expert Karin Krchnak in a related #WaterTalk on April 2.
Build a Rain Barrel
The average roof collects 600 gallons of water for every inch of rain. Capture some of that stormwater and help protect freshwater resources by building a rain barrel.
Learn about Unseen Water
Water is in almost everything. Take your average cotton t-shirt as an example: it can take 2,700 liters to produce the cotton needed to make a single t-shirt. While it’s important to fix leaky taps and buy efficient washing machines, we need to also be conscious of the unseen or “virtual water” we consume every day.