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Issues Of The Environment: Ecological Benefits Of Washtenaw County Rain Gardens

Aug 28, 2015

Rain Gardens are often beautiful. While they may look similar to a typical residential garden, there are important difference. This week, we take a look at the Washtenaw County Rain Garden, and the coordinator, Susan Bryan to discuss those matters in this weeks Issues of the Environment.


Overview

Washtenaw County has been quite successful in promoting rain gardens as a strategy for capturing stormwater runoff before it pollutes local rivers, but these gardens do require some maintenance to remain viable water capture tools.

In spring of 2015 the Office of the Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner received a sizable grant to create an online Master Rain Gardener training program, and a webinar is now available from Washtenaw County.

As the Rain Garden Coordinator for the Washtenaw County Water Resources Office, Susan Bryan has overseen the installation of 180 rain gardens in the county that capture an estimated 1.9 million gallons of stormwater annually.

Large Grant for Washtenaw County in 2015

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has awarded a three year, $108,947 grant to the Office of the Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner to create an online Master Rain Gardener training program. This grant builds on an already successful program that improves water quality by capturing stormwater runoff before it pollutes local rivers and lakes.  

To date, 180 rain gardens have been installed in Washtenaw County and 76 Master Rain Gardeners have been trained in installation best practices. County rain gardens absorb 1.9 million gallons of water which could otherwise cause erosion, create flooding and carry contaminants into local waterways.

The Master Rain Gardener training program aims to teach people how to build and educate others about rain gardens. Rather than a typical garden or a raised bed, a rain garden is an area that is dug down about 3-6 inches and planted with deeper-rooted native plants. When it rains, a rain garden captures water from a roof, driveway or poorly drained areas of the property. A rain garden can capture over 600 gallons of water from one inch of rainfall. Installation is a simple two day project that is not only functional, but beautiful. Rain gardens result in increased wildlife habitat and reduced flooding, pooling and icing on sidewalks and yards.

Along with offering the grant’s free online Master Rain Gardener training in the summer and in-person Master Rain Gardener training in the winter, staff members at the Water Resources Commissioner’s Office offer free consulting on design and installation of rain gardens on homeowner properties. The Office of the Water Resources Commissioner

The Master Rain Gardener webinar