SAVING, ON RAINY DAYS: Ulster County Department of the Environment sets example with rain garden (video)
KINGSTON — There’s nothing quite like the sound of rain hitting the roof; that rhythmic tap, tap, tapping has an inexplicably soothing quality that makes you want to curl up with a good book or simply lie in bed and allow the sounds to lull you to sleep.
But what happens to the rain after it runs off the roofs is a cause for concern in urban areas, like the city of Kingston, where miles of impervious surfaces cover the absorbent soils.
Recently, the Ulster County Department of the Environment planted a rain garden adjacent to their 17 Pearl St. office building to demonstrate how homeowners can help keep the rainfall out of the city’s storm drains and at the same time create a low-maintenence flower garden.
“Any water you can prevent from either going into the sewer or storm system can help prevent pollutants from entering the water system,” said Amanda LaValle, the department’s coordinator.
Unlike wastewater that goes through municipal sewage treatment facilities, rainwater runs untreated directly into the water bodies, said Mandy Wolfson, an environmental resource technician. Additionally, she said, during particularly heavy rains, the sheer volume of water entering the system can exceed capacity, can infiltrate municipal sanitary sewer systems causing raw sewage to enter waterways.
By redirecting water into a rain garden, pollutants are filtered out of the water before it enters the aquifers, streams, lakes and rivers, and water that could overwhelm sewer systems is redirected.
Creating a rain garden is a pretty simple undertaking and is perfect for smaller city lots, the two said.
The Department of Environment’s rain garden, created in conjunction with Ulster County Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Friends of Forsyth Nature Center, is only about 300 square feet. The plantings are perennials that are both water and drought tolerant.
And the garden is watered from redirected rain spouts that carry the water from the building’s roughly 1,000-square-foot roof. Continued...
When it rains, the garden fills with a few inches of water, which slowly filters into the ground rather than running off into a storm drain. A rain garden allows 30 percent more water to absorb into the ground than a patch of land and between 75 and 100 percent more than impervious surfaces.
Through its partnerships, the Department of the Environment was able to create the rain garden at no cost to county residents.
Information on creating a rain garden is available through the Ulster County Department of the Environment.
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