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Soak up the Rain


Why Soak Up the Rain? Soak Up the Rain

In New England, we have a problem with too much rain running off the land. We've replaced forests and fields with buildings and pavement. And now when it rains, the water (often called runoff or stormwater) runs off our roofs and driveways into the street. It picks up fertilizer, oil, pesticides, dirt, bacteria and other pollutants as it makes its way through storm drains and ditches – untreated - to our streams, rivers, lakes and the ocean. Polluted runoff is one of the greatest threats to clean water in New England. It impacts our environment, economy, health and quality of life.

When we soak up the rain we reduce the amount of rain water runoff that flows from our properties. When we soak up the rain, we help:

Bacteria in polluted runoff cause the closure of beaches and shellfish beds.
Nutrients in polluted runoff promote algae and weed infestations.

Prevent water pollution – Soaking up the rain helps keep rain water on-site and reduce the polluted runoff going to our local waterways. It helps ensure beaches stay open and we have clean water for swimming, fishing and other recreation.

Flooded street in Massachusetts

Reduce flooding – When heavy rain falls, the runoff that flows into the street can back up and cause street flooding. When we soak up the rain we help reduce the amount of water that flows from our properties into the street and the stormwater system.

Keep streams and rivers flowing

Protect our water resources – When we soak up the rain we help get water into the ground. This helps keep our streams and rivers flowing and replenish the groundwater we rely on for drinking water and other uses.

A rain garden in Leominster, Massachusetts <br> <span class='photocredit'>(Photo credit: Ed Himlin)</span>

Beautify neighborhoods – When we soak up the rain with trees and rain gardens in our yards and along our streets, we're adding beauty to the landscape. This helps to create more livable communities.

Save money

Save money – When we soak up the rain and reduce the runoff that flows to the street, we reduce the water to be handled by the town drainage systems. This can help lower the cost to the community for managing this water.

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Where does the rain go?
Stormwater Runoff <br> <span class='photocredit'>(Photo Credit: North Carolina Dept. of Environmental and Natural Resources)</span>

Soaking Up the Rain at My Home Soak Up the Rain

Our homes are part of the runoff problem. Our homes can also be part of the solution.

The next time it rains, grab your umbrella and take a walk. Watch where the rain goes.
Does it soak into the ground? Does it flow across the lawn?
Does the downspout send it down the driveway to the street?
Does it flow to a ditch or a storm drain?

How can you help soak up the rain and reduce the runoff from your property?

Rain barrels collect water from a roof downspout and hold it for later use. <br> <span class='photocredit'>(Photo Credit: CT DEP)</span>
Rain barrels collect water from a roof downspout and hold it for later use.
Downspouts are disconnected so water flows to where it will soak into the ground. <br> <span class='photocredit'>(Photo Credit: Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District)</span>
Downspouts are disconnected and/or redirected so water flows to where it will soak into the ground.
Rain gardens are shallow landscaped areas that collect and filter rain water.
Rain gardens are shallow landscaped areas that collect and filter rain water.
Trees use water and make soils better able to soak up water.
Trees use water and make soils better able to soak up water.


Permeable pavements allow water to soak into the ground. <br> <span class='photocredit'>(Photo Credit: NHDES)</span>
Permeable pavements allow water to soak into the ground.
Dry wells collect runoff and allow it to gradually soak into the soil. <br>  <span class='photocredit'>(Photo Credit: © 2011 Braden Drypolcher. Reprinted with permission.)</span>
Dry wells collect runoff and allow it to gradually soak into the soil.
Green roofs have a layer of plant material that captures water when it rains.
Green roofs have a layer of plant material that captures rain water.

Some resources to help decide what's right for you:

View this animation from the Smart Waterways program in Vermont Exit

Bay-Friendly Backyards, Save the Bay Exit
Tips on how to make your yard more attractive, cut back on chores and improve the quality of your local waters. Includes information and links on planting a rain garden, selecting native plants (and avoiding invasives), and lawn care.

Rhode Island Stormwater Solutions Exit
Steps we can take around our homes and yards.

Find resources and assistance for soaking up the rain on your property.

New Hampshire Homeowner's Guide to Stormwater Management Do-It-Yourself Stormwater Solutions for Your Home, New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services Exit
Includes step-by-step instructions for installing do-it-yourself practices to help protect nearby streams and ponds from stormwater pollution, and help reduce flooding, create wildlife habitat, recharge groundwater, and conserve water resources.

New Hampshire Residential Loading Model Exit
A modeling tool for homeowners to calculate their "stormwater footprint", or estimate how much phosphorus, nitrogen and sediment a property contributes to the watershed. It also helps estimate the benefit of taking action to manage the stormwater on a property.

Absorb The Storm- Create a Rain-friendly Yard and Neighborhood, Lake Champlain Sea Grant, University of Vermont Cooperative Extension (PDF) (24 pp, 2.5 MB, about PDF) Exit
Discusses a number of steps homeowners can take, including trees, to help prevent the problems associated with runoff.

EPA Stormwater Calculator
Based on local soil conditions, topography, and rainfall records, The Calculator is a desktop tool that estimates annual rainfall and runoff from a specific site. Whether you're an urban planner, developer, landscaper or homeowner, this tool helps balance land development and landscaping with green infrastructure. Find the tool, fact sheet, implementation guide and other information.

Every action counts. Join homeowners around New England who are helping to soak up the rain and reduce the runoff from their yards and driveways. Learn more. Take action. Share your photos and stories.

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My Community, My Business Soak Up the Rain

How Can I Overcome the Barriers to Green Infrastructure?
Information and resources for municipalities, designers and others concerned about design challenges, costs, performance, maintenance, and other issues.

EPA Green Infrastructure Webinars

Moving Toward Sustainability: Sustainable and Effective Practices for Creating Your Water Utility Roadmap (PDF) (44 pp, 884 K) Webinar series, Oct 2014; March, May and June 2015
Sponsored by EPA, AMWA, AWWA, NACWA, and WEF
To help utilities develop their own roadmap to sustainability through the implementation of proven and sustainable practices across all facets of utility operations.

OCTOBER 30, 12:30 - 2:30 pm

  • Overview of Moving Toward Sustainability: Sustainable and Effective Practices for Creating Your Water Utility Roadmap (Jim Horne, U.S. EPA)
  • Community Sustainability: Sue Hann, City Manager, Palm Bay Florida; Andy Kricun, Camden County Municipal Utility Authority

To register

Cities and towns around New England are grappling with how to manage the water that runs off roofs, roads and parking lots into the street when it rains. In many communities the stormwater systems are not designed to handle the runoff they receive. The infrastructure is aging and some communities face increasing state and federal requirements. Communities are looking for efficient, lower-cost ways to handle stormwater runoff and protect local waterways. Businesses and institutions are also seeking efficiency and economy in managing stormwater runoff - and looking to maximize the return from their investments.

Rain gardens, permeable pavement and green roofs are examples of some of the practices that are often referred to as green infrastructure. Green infrastructure, by definition, uses vegetation, soils, and natural processes to manage water. Green infrastructure is increasingly being used around New England - bringing with it a range of environmental, economic and aesthetic benefits.

A rain garden in Plymouth, Massachusetts <br> <span class='photocredit'>(Photo Credit: Town of Plymouth)</span>
Pervious asphalt at the University of Connecticut <br> <span class='photocredit'>(Photo Credit: CT DEP)</span>
A green roof in Ipswich, Massachusetts

Join others around New England who are helping to soak up the rain. Learn more. Take action. Share your photos and stories.

Community and Business Resources

Green Infrastructure for Climate Resiliency
Information on how green infrastructure can be used as an important tool for building community resilience to climate change impacts such as increased heavy rainfall and heat island effect. Includes infographic and fact sheet.

Rain Ready, Center for Neighborhood Technology Exit
Find a suite of policies and practices to help residents, communities, and states plan for weather events associated with global climate change and approach the challenges of flooding, water shortage, and/or water pollution in customized and cost-effective ways.

Innovative Funding Approaches for Stormwater and Green Infrastructure, University of North Carolina Environmental Finance Center Exit
The EFC has received funding from the EPA to promote innovative financing approaches for stormwater and green infrastructure projects. Find links to dashboards, a white paper and the May 2014 Catalog of Green Infrastructure and Stormwater Finance Publications.

Updated 2014 Catalog of Federal Funding Sources for Watershed Protection
A searchable database of financial assistance sources (grants, loans, cost-sharing) available to fund a variety of watershed protection projects.

Climate Change and Water Newsletter
EPA's bi-weekly newsletter with news, activities, publications, and events from EPA and others. Learn more, view archive issues, and subscribe.

Climate Change and Water-Related Events Calendar

Greening CSO Plans: Planning and Modeling Green Infrastructure for Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Control, 2014, EPA (PDF) (38 pp, 1.9 MB, about PDF)
Learn how to use modeling tools such as EPA's Storm Water Management Model (SWMM) to optimize different combinations of gray and green infrastructure to reduce both sewer overflow volume and number of overflow events.

Stormwater to Street Trees, Engineering Urban Forests for Stormwater Management, 2013, EPA (PDF) (34 pp, 2.7 MB, about PDF)
Learn the basics of how trees perform and interact in the management of stormwater, and how new technologies are being used to increase the function of trees in the urban forest.

The Green Edge: How Commercial Property Investment in Green Infrastructure Creates Value, 2013, Natural Resources Defense Council
Report explores the wide range of benefits green infrastructure can provide to the commercial real estate sector. These include higher rents and property values, increased retail sales, energy savings, local financial incentives (such as tax credits, rebates, and stormwater fee credits), reduced life-cycle and maintenance costs, reduced flood damage, reduced water bills, reduced crime, and improved health and job satisfaction for office employees. The report provides illustrative examples for retail buildings, office buildings, and multi-family residential buildings, showing that the cumulative value of these benefits can total in the millions of dollars over a long-term (40-year) planning horizon.

Case Studies Analyzing the Economic Benefits of Low Impact Development and Green Infrastructure Programs, 2013, U.S. EPA (PDF) (142 pp, 2 MB, about PDF)
This report was prepared to help utilities, state and municipal agencies, and other stormwater professionals understand the potential benefits of their low impact development (LID) and green infrastructure (GI) programs. The objectives are to highlight different evaluation methods that have been successfully applied, and also to demonstrate cases where LID/GI has been shown to be economically beneficial. The intent of this document is to promote the use of LID/GI, where appropriate, to supplement grey stormwater infrastructure.

Implementing Stormwater Infiltration Practices at Vacant Parcels and Brownfield Sites, 2013, U.S. EPA (PDF) (15 pp, 774 K, about PDF)
This document presents information to assist communities, developers, and other stakeholders in determining the appropriateness of implementing stormwater management practices that promote infiltration at vacant parcels and brownfield sites.

EPA Stormwater Calculator
Based on local soil conditions, topography, and rainfall records, The Calculator is a desktop tool that estimates annual rainfall and runoff from a specific site. Whether you're an urban planner, developer, landscaper or homeowner, this tool helps balance land development and landscaping with green infrastructure. Find the tool, fact sheet, implementation guide and other information.

Staying Green: Strategies to Improve Operations and Maintenance of Green Infrastructure in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, 2013 Exit
A report from American Rivers in partnership with Green For All, this report examines some of the major barriers to effective operations and maintenance of green infrastructure practices in the Chesapeake Bay region and identifies strategies and best practices that local governments, practitioners, and other groups are using to develop and improve maintenance practices.

The Importance of Operation and Maintenance for the Long-Term Success of Green Infrastructure, March 2013, U.S. EPA (PDF) (53 pp, 2.5 MB, about PDF)
A review of green infrastructure O & M practices in ARRA Clean Water State Revolving Fund Projects

EPA Green Infrastructure Permitting and Enforcement Series, 2012
A series of six factsheets on incorporating green infrastructure measures into NPDES wet weather programs

Economic Benefits of Protecting Healthy Watersheds, April 2012 (PDF) (4 pp, 751 K, about PDF)
EPA fact sheet describes studies that demonstrate protecting healthy watersheds can reduce capital costs for water treatment plants and reduce damages to property and infrastructure due to flooding, thereby avoiding future costs. Additionally, examples in the fact sheet show that protecting healthy watersheds can generate revenue through property value premiums, recreation, and tourism.

Green Infrastructure, U.S. EPA

Banking on Green: A look at how green infrastructure can save municipalities money and provide economic benefits community-wide, April 2012
A joint report by America Rivers, the Water Environment Federation, the American Society of Landscape Architects and ECONorthwest focuses on the economic impacts caused by polluted urban runoff and provides a compendium of current experiences, analysis and knowledge.

Rooftops to Rivers II, Green Strategies for Controlling Stormwater and Combined Sewer Overflows, 2011, National Resources Defense Council Exit
Case studies from cities employing green infrastructure

The Value of Green Infrastructure, A Guide to Recognizing its Economic, Environmental and Social Benefits, 2010, American Rivers, Center for Neighborhood Technology Exit

Green Values Stormwater Toolbox, Center for Neighborhood Technology Exit
Includes links to calculators for comparing the performance, costs, and benefits of Green Infrastructure, or Low Impact Development (LID), to conventional stormwater practices.

A Community Guide to Growing Greener, 2011, Massachusetts Watershed Coalition (PDF) (65 pp, 2.1 MB, about PDF) Exit
A set of guidelines for developers, designers and community boards intended to advance greener growth and cleaner water in Wachusett communities

Ipswich River Project Exit
A project to implement and measure the effectiveness of several low impact development and water conservation demonstration projects. Includes rain gardens, permeable pavement, a green roof, and rain water harvesting with cisterns.

Protecting Water Resources and Managing Stormwater: A Bird's Eye View for New Hampshire Communities March 2010 (PDF) (52 pp, 2.8 MB, about PDF) Exit
University of New Hampshire Stormwater Center, in partnership with the UNH Cooperative Extension, has produced a new guide focused on what local communities can do to protect water resources and manage stormwater runoff.

University of New Hampshire Stormwater Center Exit
The center's mission includes research and development of stormwater treatment systems, and providing resources to the stormwater management community.

Forging the Link, Linking the Economic Benefits of Low Impact Development and Community Decisions, 2011 Exit
A study conducted by UNH Stormwater Center, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Antioch University New England

Connecticut NEMO (Nonpoint Source Education for Municipal Officials) Program Exit
A wide range of resources for communities, including planning tools.

Connecticut LID Inventory Exit
Find sites around the country where rain gardens, pervious pavements, green roofs and other practices are being used to manage stormwater.

Jordan Cove Urban Watershed Project Exit
This Connecticut project measured the effectiveness of several practices including rain gardens and permeable pavement in reducing runoff in a residential setting.

Reducing Stormwater Costs through Low Impact Development (LID) Strategies and Practices, 2007
Information for cities, counties, states, private-sector developers and others on the costs and benefits of using Low Impact Development (LID) strategies and practices to help protect and restore water quality.

Nonpoint Source News – Notes
An occasional bulletin from EPA dealing with the condition of the water-related environment, the control of nonpoint sources of water pollution (NPS), and the ecosystem-driven management and restoration of watersheds.

Nonpoint Source Toolbox, EPA Office of Water
A searchable catalog with access to a wide range of products intended for use by state and local agencies and other organizations interested in educating the public on nonpoint source pollution or stormwater runoff.

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Understanding the Problem of Stormwater and Polluted Runoff Soak Up the Rain

We can help soak up the rain to reduce runoff. We can also take steps to reduce the pollutants (such as dog waste, lawn chemicals, trash, oil and grease from our cars) that are carried by runoff to our streams, lakes, rivers and coastlines.

Stormwater and My Home, NH Soak up the Rain Exit

Lessons in Water Cycling: Green Infrastructure in Providence, Rhode Island Exit

Rhode Island Stormwater Solutions Exit
Steps we can take around our homes and yards.

Problems and Solutions, Vermont Smart Waterways Exit

What You Can Do as a Citizen? (PDF) (1 pg, 752 K, about PDF)

After the Storm, A Citizen's Guide to Understanding Stormwater (PDF) (5 pp, 511 K, about PDF) Exit

Nutrient Pollution

Nutrients in polluted runoff promote algae and weed infestations.

Too much nitrogen and phosphorus in the water cause algae to grow faster than ecosystems can handle. Significant increases in algae harm water quality, food resources and habitats, and decrease the oxygen that fish and other aquatic life need to survive. Learn more about the problem of nutrient pollution and what you can do.

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How to Soak Up the Rain Soak Up the Rain

Learn about the many actions you can take to soak up the rain. Learn also about the factors to consider when deciding what to do in a particular situation. Information and assistance is available for homeowners, landscape designers, municipalities, planners and others from many sources.

To understand some concepts behind practices to manage runoff and soak up the rain, check out some fact sheets from Vermont:

Rain Barrels

Rain barrel<br> <span class='photocredit'>(Photo Credit: CT DEP)</span>
Rain barrels, Winooski, Vermont <br> <span class='photocredit'>(Photo credit:  Winooski Natural Resources Conservation District)</span>

Rain barrels capture water from a roof and store it for later use on lawns, gardens or indoor plants. Collecting roof runoff in rain barrels reduces the amount of water that flows from your property. It's also a great way to conserve water.

Many cities and towns distribute rain barrels to residents through annual sales. Other sources include online retailers, local home and garden supply stores.

Cisterns are also used to "harvest" rain water. They have a greater storage capacity than a rain barrel and may be located above or below ground.

CONNECTICUT

A Resident's Guide to Rain Barrels in Connecticut, Rainfall as a Resource, Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (PDF) (2 pp, 524 K, about PDF) Exit
Fact sheet describes the benefits of using a rain barrel; how to install and maintain a rain barrel; and answers to some frequently asked questions.

Rain Barrels, Reduce Runoff, Smart Ways to Reduce Harmful Effects of Stormwater Runoff, Save the Sound, Connecticut Fund for the Environment Exit
Basic information about rainbarrels; links to some sources and a series of product reviews of different rain barrel styles.

Rainwater Harvesting Implementation Projects in Connecticut, Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (PDF) (9 pp, 1.1 MB, about PDF) Exit
See examples from around the state.

MAINE

Maine Stormwater Best Management Practices Manual, Maine Department of Environmental Protection Exit
Volume III, Chapter 10 includes information about rain barrels.

MASSACHUSETTS

Rain Barrels and Other Water Conservation Tools, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Exit
Why rain barrels are important; how to install; how to make; and where to obtain a manufactured rain barrel

Massachusetts Nonpoint Source Pollution Management Manual, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Exit
Commonly called the Clean Water Toolkit, Chapter 4 includes a fact sheet on cisterns and rain barrels.

Ipswich River Project Exit
A project to implement and measure the effectiveness of several low impact development and water conservation demonstration projects. Includes rain gardens, permeable pavement, a green roof, and rain water harvesting with cisterns.

Find resources and assistance for soaking up the rain on your property.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

New Hampshire Homeowner's Guide to Stormwater Management Do-It-Yourself Stormwater Solutions for Your Home, New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services Exit
Includes step-by-step instructions for installing do-it-yourself practices to help protect nearby streams and ponds from stormwater pollution, and help reduce flooding, create wildlife habitat, recharge groundwater, and conserve water resources. Includes a fact sheet on how to install and maintain a rain barrel.

New Hampshire Residential Loading Model Exit
A modeling tool for homeowners to calculate their "stormwater footprint", or estimate how much phosphorus, nitrogen and sediment a property contributes to the watershed. It also helps estimate the benefit of taking action to manage the stormwater on a property.

A Shoreland Homeowner's Guide to Stormwater Management (PDF) (16 pp, 1.4 MB, about PDF)
The guide describes practices, including rain barrels, that shoreland homeowners can install to reduce or prevent polluted stormwater runoff from their roofs, patios, lawns and driveways.

RHODE ISLAND

Rain Barrels, Sustainable Landscaping, University of Rhode Island Exit
Find information on how to use, build, install and maintain a rain barrel.

Rain Barrels, Rhode Island Stormwater Solutions Exit

VERMONT

Capture & Reuse – Rain barrels and Cisterns, Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation Exit
Basic information along with some photos and illustrations

Absorb The Storm- Create a Rain-friendly Yard and Neighborhood, Lake Champlain Sea Grant, University of Vermont Cooperative Extension (PDF) (24 pp, 2.5 MB, about PDF) Exit
Discusses a number of steps homeowners can take, including rain barrels, to help prevent the problems associated with runoff.

Vermont Low Impact Development Guide for Residential and Small Sites, Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (PDF) (54 pp, 4.7 MB, about PDF) Exit
Includes instructions on how to install and maintain rain barrels. Shows design guidance for double rain barrel set up.

South Burlington Stormwater Utility Low Impact Development Guidance Manual, 2009 (PDF) (78 pp, 4.7 MB, about PDF) Exit
Guidance includes an introduction to rain barrels.

Other Resources

Rainwater Harvesting, U.S. EPA Green Infrastructure

EPA Water Conservation Rain Barrels Exit

Rain barrel art in Philadelphia: The Art & Science of Rain Barrels Slideshow

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Disconnect/Redirect Downspouts Soak Up the Rain

Downspout Disconnection<br> <span class='photocredit'>(Photo Credit: Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District)</span>
The downspout is connected to partially buried piping that discharges into a rain garden.

Downspouts are often directed onto a paved surface such as a driveway. They may also be connected to a pipe in the ground that connects directly to the sanitary sewer or storm drain system. Downspout disconnection is the process of disconnecting the downspout from the pipe or the paved area. Water is then redirected to flow into a rain barrel, or to a lawn or garden where it can soak into the ground. Disconnecting downspouts can help reduce the amount of polluted runoff flowing to local waterways. It can also help reduce the occurrence of sewer overflows and the volumes of water requiring wastewater treatment.

Note: Downspout disconnection may not be appropriate for all locations. Consider local regulations and where you are directing the water to avoid property damage, unsafe conditions or other potential problems.

CONNECTICUT

Downspout Disconnection, Reduce Runoff, Smart Ways to Reduce Harmful Effects of Stormwater Runoff, Save the Sound, Connecticut Fund for the Environment
Basic information on why and how to disconnect a downspout; links to videos and tutorials on how.

MAINE

Downspout Disconnection, City of South Portland, Maine Exit
Find general information on why to disconnect downspouts, site criteria, etc.

MASSACHUSETTS

Downspout disconnections, allowing rain to drain to lawns, gardens, South Hadley, Massachusetts Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PDF) (1 pg, 138 K, about PDF) Exit
Fact sheet on why and how to disconnect a downspout from the sewer system

VERMONT

Stormwater Disconnection, Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (PDF) (2 pp, 361 K, about PDF) Exit
Fact sheet on the concept and advantages of disconnection.

Absorb The Storm- Create a Rain-friendly Yard and Neighborhood, Lake Champlain Sea Grant, University of Vermont Cooperative Extension (PDF) (24 pp, 2.5 MB, about PDF) Exit
Discusses a number of steps homeowners can take, including downspout disconnection, to help prevent the problems associated with runoff.

Vermont Low Impact Development Guide for Residential and Small Sites, Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (PDF) (54 pp, 4.7 MB, about PDF) Exit
A booklet that describes information on roof top downspout disconnection.

How to redirect a Downspout, Lake Champlain Program Exit
Step-by-step instructions, with pictures, on how to redirect a downspout

Other Resources

Downspout Disconnection, U.S. EPA Green Infrastructure

Downspout Disconnection, How to manage stormwater, Environmental Services, City of Portland (PDF) (8 pp, 1.3 MB, about PDF) Exit
A "how to" for disconnecting downspouts. Includes information on safety considerations, how to design and disconnect, and maintenance.

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Rain Gardens Soak Up the Rain

Rain garden at the VA Central Western Massachusetts <br>Healthcare System facility in Leeds, MA<br> <span class='photocredit'>(Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force)</span>
Residential rain garden in Leominster, Massachusetts
Rain garden in Leominster, MA<br> <span class='photocredit'>(Photo Credit: MA Watershed Coalition)</span>
Rain garden at work in Leominster, MA<br> <span class='photocredit'>(Photo Credit: MA Watershed Coalition)</span>

Take a Virtual Tour of UConn Green Infrastructure Exit
See some of the green infrastructure practices, including permeable surfaces, rain gardens / bioretention and green roofs, used on the Storrs, CT campus.

Rhode Island's rain garden sign

Rhode Island's rain garden sign
To adapt it for your program, contact Lorraine Joubert at ljoubert@uri.edu or (401) 874-2138

Rain Garden AppRain Garden App Exit
A mobile app for designing, installing and maintaining a rain garden. Apple and Android versions available.

Rain gardens are depressed areas in the landscape that collect and filter water from roofs, driveways and other hard surfaces. Planted with native grasses and flowering perennials, rain gardens can be a cost effective and beautiful way to reduce runoff from your property. Rain gardens can also help:

Watch and Learn

Rain Gardens 101 Exit
New website from UConn includes instructions with video clips on how to design and install a rain garden

Rain Garden Webinar Exit
UConn presentation introduces rain gardens, including how to pick a location, select plants and install a rain garden

EPA, YouthBuild, Greenway Conservancy Build a Rain Garden in Boston, April 2012 Exit

See how one Rhode Island community planted a rain garden.

  • filter out pollutants in runoff
  • provide food and shelter for butterflies, song birds and other wildlife
  • engage and educate citizens about the problem of polluted runoff and what they can do to help

More complex rain gardens with drainage systems and amended soils are often referred to as bioretention.

Note: Refer to the links in this section for important tips on how to locate your rain garden. These include areas to avoid and the need for accurate information about underground utilities before you begin to dig.

CONNECTICUT

Rain Gardens, A Design Guide for Connecticut and New England Homeowners University of Connecticut NEMO program Exit
Information on siting and sizing a rain garden, design, installation and long and short term maintenance. Also includes a series of Frequently Asked Questions and a Cost Calculator for estimating the cost to install a residential rain garden.

Rain Gardens: A Design Guide for Homeowners, University of Connecticut Exit
A colorful 12-page brochure introduces rain gardens and discusses how to plan and install them in the home landscape.

Resident's Guide to Rain Gardens, Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (PDF) (2 pp, 533 K, about PDF) Exit
Introduces rain gardens, including information about what they are, the benefits and some common questions.

Jordan Cove Urban Watershed Project Exit
This Connecticut project measured the effectiveness of several practices including rain gardens and permeable pavement in reducing runoff in a residential setting.

Rain Garden/Bioretention Implementation Projects in Connecticut, Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (PDF) (30 pp, 4.4 MB, about PDF) Exit
See examples from around the state.

The Connecticut Native Tree and Shrub Availability List, Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (PDF) (12 pp, 256 K, about PDF) Exit
A (January 2005) native tree and shrub availability list for locating native planting stock.

Native Plants for Landscape Use in Connecticut, Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation Exit

MAINE

Adding a Rain Garden to Your Landscape, University of Maine Cooperative Extension (PDF) (8 pp, 1.3 MB, about PDF) Exit
Easy to read fact sheet describes rain gardens and includes tips on how to plan, design and install a rain garden. Includes designs and plant lists for sunny and shady gardens.

Adding a Rain Garden to Your Landscape, University of Maine Cooperative Extension Exit
Introduces rain gardens and includes instructions and plans on how to plan, design, install and maintain.

MASSACHUSETTS

EPA, YouthBuild, Greenway Conservancy Build a Rain Garden in Boston, April 2012 Exit
Earth Day 2012 collaboration in downtown Boston

Community Guide to Growing Greener, Massachusetts Watershed Coalition (PDF) (65 pp, 2.1 MB, about PDF) Exit
Includes a listing of shrubs and trees suited for the area.

Ipswich River Project Exit
A project to implement and measure the effectiveness of several low impact development and water conservation demonstration projects. Includes rain gardens, permeable pavement, a green roof, and rain water harvesting with cisterns.

Find resources and assistance for soaking up the rain on your property.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

New Hampshire Homeowner's Guide to Stormwater Management Do-It-Yourself Stormwater Solutions for Your Home, New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services Exit
Includes step-by-step instructions for installing do-it-yourself practices to help protect nearby streams and ponds from stormwater pollution, and help reduce flooding, create wildlife habitat, recharge groundwater, and conserve water resources. Includes a fact sheet with step-by-step instructions on how to install and maintain a rain garden.

The New Hampshire Residential Loading Model Exit is a tool for homeowners to calculate their "stormwater footprint", or estimate how much phosphorus, nitrogen and sediment a property contributes to the watershed. It also helps estimate the benefit of taking action to manage the stormwater on a property.

A Shoreland Homeowner's Guide to Stormwater Management (PDF) (16 pp, 1.4 MB, about PDF)
The guide describes practices, including rain gardens, that shoreland homeowners can install to reduce or prevent polluted stormwater runoff from their roofs, patios, lawns and driveways.

RHODE ISLAND

Rain Gardens, Rhode Island Stormwater Solutions Exit
Includes links to many fact sheets, including rain garden maintenance information for homeowners and professionals.

Bay-Friendly Backyards, Save the Bay Exit
Tips on how to make your yard more attractive, cut back on chores and improve the quality of your local waters. Includes information and links on planting a rain garden, selecting native plants (and avoiding invasives), and lawn care.

Rain Gardens: A Design Guide for Homeowners in Rhode Island, University of Rhode Island Cooperative Extension (PDF) (6 pp, 1 MB, about PDF) Exit

Rain Gardens, Healthy Landscapes, University of Rhode Island Exit
Information on how rain gardens work; recommended plants; how to design, install and maintain.

Rhode Island Wild Plant Society Exit
Information about native plants and native plant nurseries

Rhode Island Stormwater Management Guidance for Individual Single-Family Residential Lot Development (PDF) (15 pp, 719 K, about PDF) Exit

University of Rhode Island Outreach Center Exit

VERMONT

Bioretention/Rain Gardens, Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation Exit
Some basics, along with photos and illustrations on design, sizing, placement, and installation.

Absorb The Storm- Create a Rain-friendly Yard and Neighborhood, Lake Champlain Sea Grant, University of Vermont Cooperative Extension (PDF) (24 pp, 2.5 MB, about PDF) Exit
Discusses a number of steps homeowners can take, including rain gardens, to help prevent the problems associated with runoff.

The Vermont Rain Garden Manual: "Gardening to Absorb the Storm", University of Vermont (PDF) (20 pp, 2.9 MB, about PDF) Exit
This manual explains how to choose a location for a rain garden, choose plants, install and maintain the garden. Includes plant lists.

Vermont Low Impact Development Guide for Residential and Small Sites, Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (PDF) (54 pp, 4.7 MB, about PDF) Exit
Discusses the benefits of rain gardens with instructions on siting, designing, and installing rain gardens.

Rain Gardens, Smart Water Ways, Chittendon County, Vermont Exit
Find plant lists and step-by-step instructions.

Other Resources

Rain Gardens, Green Infrastructure, U.S. EPA

Woody Shrubs for Stormwater Retention Practices, 2014 Cornell University (PDF) (56 pp, 33.2 MB, about PDF) Exit

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Trees Soak Up the Rain

Tree plantings at Jordan Cove in Connecticut
Using a tree system to help manage runoff<br> <span class='photocredit'>(Photo Credit: NHDES)</span>

Trees are valued for the beauty and many other benefits they bring to our landscapes and neighborhoods. Trees are increasingly recognized for their importance in managing runoff.

  • Tree roots take up water.
  • Water that lands on leaves and branches evaporates.
  • Roots create gaps in the soil that help water soak into the ground.

CONNECTICUT

The Connecticut Native Tree and Shrub Availability List, Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (PDF) (12 pp, 256 K, about PDF) Exit
A (January 2005) native tree and shrub availability list for locating native planting stock.

Native Plants for Landscape Use in Connecticut, Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation Exit

MAINE

Selecting, Planting, and Caring for Trees and Shrubs in the Maine Landscape, University of Maine Cooperative Extension Exit

MASSACHUSETTS

Community Guide to Growing Greener, Massachusetts Watershed Coalition (PDF) (65 pp, 2.1 MB, about PDF) Exit
Includes listing of shrubs and trees suited for the area.

Grow Boston Greener Exit
A program to plant an additional 100,000 trees by 2020 to increase the urban tree canopy to 35% and make Boston a cooler, cleaner, healthier city. The goals of the program include improved storm water management.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Planting Trees in Designed and Built Community Landscapes Exit

RHODE ISLAND

Rhode Island Coastal Plant Guide
A reference for those involved in the design and management of coastal landscapes

VERMONT

Absorb The Storm- Create a Rain-friendly Yard and Neighborhood, Lake Champlain Sea Grant, University of Vermont Cooperative Extension (PDF) (24 pp, 2.5 MB, about PDF) Exit
Discusses a number of steps homeowners can take, including trees, to help prevent the problems associated with runoff.

Main Streets to Green Streets, Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation (PDF) (2 pp, 4.2 MB, about PDF) Exit
Fact sheet describes some of the issues and benefits of using trees in managing stormwater in our downtowns.

Urban Tree Canopy, Watershed Management, Vermont Agency of National Resources Exit
Some basic information and links about urban trees to help manage stormwater

Vermont Tree Selection Guide (PDF) (28 pp, 3.7 MB, about PDF) Exit
A guide to help citizens match trees to sites to achieve lasting shade.

Other Resources

Woody Shrubs for Stormwater Retention Practices, 2014 Cornell University (PDF) (56 pp, 33.2 MB, about PDF) Exit

Urban Tree Canopy, Green Infrastructure, U.S. EPA

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Permeable Pavement Soak Up the Rain

Take a Virtual Tour of UConn Green Infrastructure Exit
See some of the green infrastructure practices, including permeable surfaces, rain gardens / bioretention and green roofs, used on the Storrs, CT campus.

Permeable pavement, St. Albans, Vermont
Permeable pavers at NH Town Hall<br> <span class='photocredit'>(Photo Credit: NHDES)</span>

Permeable pavement allows rain and snowmelt to seep through the surface and into the ground. Available in asphalt, concrete, interlocking pavers, and other materials, permeable paving can:

  • capture and soak in up to 80 to 100 percent of the rain that lands on it
  • filter out pollutants in rain water runoff that contribute to water pollution
  • reduce the need for road salt by up to 75 percent, by absorbing rainwater and snow melt before it freezes
  • reduce construction costs for residential and commercial development by reducing the need for drainage features

CONNECTICUT

A Resident's Guide to Pervious Pavement in Connecticut, Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (PDF) (2 pp, 562 K, about PDF) Exit
Introduces pervious pavements, including information on how it works, the types and benefits, and residential applications.

Permeable Pavements for Stormwater Control Webinar Presentation, University of Connecticut Exit
Presents information on why permeable pavements are used, the advantages and disadvantages of different types, installation, maintenance, and costs.

Pervious Pavement Implementation Projects in Connecticut (PDF) (20 pp, 4.7 MB, about PDF) Exit
See examples from around the state

Permeable Pavements, Reduce Runoff, Smart Ways to Reduce Harmful Effects of Stormwater Runoff Save the Sound, Connecticut Fund for the Environment Exit
Basic information on permeable pavements; includes a link to cost comparison information.

Jordan Cove Urban Watershed Project Exit
This Connecticut project measured the effectiveness of several practices including rain gardens and permeable pavement in reducing runoff in a residential setting.

Connecticut Stormwater Manual, Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Exit
Chapter 11 includes information on permeable pavement (PDF) (4 pp, 890 K, about PDF). Exit

MASSACHUSETTS

Hurd Field Porous Pavement Education Project
The Town of Arlington, Massachusetts and the U.S. EPA New England regional office are collaborating on a project to retrofit the Hurd Field parking lot and educate community members and municipal officials about the benefits of using porous pavement to improve water quality. The Hurd Field Porous Pavement Project consists of resurfacing a majority of the parking lot with porous pavement to infiltrate rain and reduce runoff to the adjacent Mill Brook. Visit the website to learn more about the project and see pictures before, during and after construction.

Permeable Paving, Massachusetts Low Impact Development Toolkit Fact Sheet #6, Metropolitan Area Planning Council Exit
Factsheet describes types of permeable paving, their benefits and limitations, maintenance, design details and cost.

Massachusetts Nonpoint Source Pollution Management Manual, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Exit
Commonly called the Clean Water Toolkit, Chapter 4 includes a fact sheet about permeable pavement.

Ipswich River Project Exit
A project to implement and measure the effectiveness of several low impact development and water conservation demonstration projects. Includes rain gardens, permeable pavement, a green roof, and rain water harvesting with cisterns.

Find resources and assistance for soaking up the rain on your property.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

New Hampshire Homeowner's Guide to Stormwater Management Do-It-Yourself Stormwater Solutions for Your Home, New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services Exit
Includes step-by-step instructions for installing do-it-yourself practices to help protect nearby streams and ponds from stormwater pollution, and help reduce flooding, create wildlife habitat, recharge groundwater, and conserve water resources. Includes instructions for installing a pervious walkway and patio.

New Hampshire Residential Loading Model Exit
A modeling tool for homeowners to calculate their "stormwater footprint", or estimate how much phosphorus, nitrogen and sediment a property contributes to the watershed. It also helps estimate the benefit of taking action to manage the stormwater on a property.

University of New Hampshire Stormwater Center Exit
Find a range of information about permeable pavements, including design specifications, water quality benefits, and performance in cold climates.

Suitability during New England winters Exit
A series of presentations on design and performances of porous surfaces.

RHODE ISLAND

Rhode Island Stormwater Management Guidance for Individual Single-Family Residential Lot Development (PDF) (15 pp, 719 K, about PDF) Exit

VERMONT

Pervious Pavement, Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation Exit
Illustrations and photos along with some basic information about different materials.

Vermont Low Impact Development Guide for Residential and Small Sites, Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (PDF) (54 pp, 4.7 MB, about PDF) Exit
Includes a review of the benefits and limitations of permeable pavement.

South Burlington Stormwater Utility Low Impact Development Guidance Manual, 2009 (PDF) (78 pp, 4.7 MB, about PDF) Exit
Guidance includes an introduction to porous pavement including design criteria and maintenance.

Other Resources

Permeable Pavements, Green Infrastructure, U.S. EPA

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Dry Wells Soak Up the Rain

Drywell Schematic<br> <span class='photocredit'>(Photo Credit: © 2011 Braden Drypolcher. Reprinted with permission.)</span>

Dry wells are underground systems that help infiltrate water into the soil. They're often used to collect rain water from roofs, especially where space is limited. Dry wells can be constructed by the homeowner or a hired contractor.

Note: State environmental programs regulate the installation of dry wells in order to prevent contamination of groundwater. Although in most cases regulations do not apply to single family homeowners, depending on the location and property type, the state may require a simple registration or a permit. Check with your state agency at the contacts noted below before beginning work on a dry well.

CONNECTICUT

Dry Wells, Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (PDF) (4 pp, 167 K, about PDF) Exit
Fact sheet provides details for siting a dry well.

State Contact:
Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
Art Mauger - art.mauger@ct.gov - 860-424-3829

MAINE

Dry Wells: Managing Roof Runoff from Homes with Gutters, Portland (ME) Water District (PDF) (1 pg, 271 K, about PDF) Exit
Overview of how to construct and maintain a dry well; why a dry well can be useful for property preservation.

State Contact:
Maine Department of Environmental Protection
Erich Kluck - erich.kluck@maine.gov - 207-592-2068

MASSACHUSETTS

Infiltration Trenches and Dry Wells, Massachusetts Area Planning Council Exit
Details on how to construct a dry well; benefits and limitations; how a dry well helps water quality.

Massachusetts Nonpoint Source Pollution Management Manual, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Exit
Commonly called the Clean Water Toolkit, Chapter 4 includes a fact sheet with dry well information.

State Contact:
Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
Joe Cerutti - joseph.cerutti@state.ma.us - 617-292-5859

Find resources and assistance for soaking up the rain on your property.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

New Hampshire Homeowner's Guide to Stormwater Management Do-It-Yourself Stormwater Solutions for Your Home, New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services
Includes step-by-step instructions for installing do-it-yourself practices to help protect nearby streams and ponds from stormwater pollution, and help reduce flooding, create wildlife habitat, recharge groundwater, and conserve water resources. Simple overview of how to construct and maintain a dry well; why a dry well can be useful for property preservation.

A Shoreland Homeowner's Guide to Stormwater Management (PDF) (16 pp, 1.4 MB, about PDF)
The guide describes practices, including dry wells, that shoreland homeowners can install to reduce or prevent polluted stormwater runoff from their roofs, patios, lawns and driveways.

State Contact:
New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services
Mitch Locker - mlocker@des.state.nh.us - 603-271-2858

RHODE ISLAND

Rhode Island Stormwater Management Guidance for Individual Single-Family Residential Lot Development (PDF) (15 pp, 719 K, about PDF) Exit

State Contact:
Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management
Ernie Panciera - Ernie.Panciera@dem.ri.gov - 401-222-4700 Ext. 7603

VERMONT

Drywells, Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation Exit
An illustration and some basics.

Low Impact Development Guidance Manual, South Burlington Stormwater Utility (PDF) (78 pp, 4.7 MB, about PDF) Exit
Includes information about dry wells.

The Vermont Stormwater Management Manual, Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (PDF) (119 pp, 5 MB, about PDF) Exit
Includes some information about dry wells.

State Contact:
Vermont Agency of Natural Resources
Cindy Parks - cynthia.parks@state.vt.us - 802-585-4913

Other Resources

New Jersey Stormwater Best Management Practices Manual: Standard for Dry Wells, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (PDF) (7 pp, 295 K, about PDF) Exit
This short manual provides an overview of the purposes for a dry well, siting characteristics, operation, and maintenance.

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Green Roofs Soak Up the Rain

Take a Virtual Tour of UConn Green Infrastructure Exit
See some of the green infrastructure practices, including permeable surfaces, rain gardens / bioretention and green roofs, used on the Storrs, CT campus.

A green roof in Burlington, Vermont<br> <span class='photocredit'>(Photo Credit: Vermont Stormwater Program)</span>
Green roof in Crafstbury, Vermont

Green roofs have a layer of plant material that absorbs water like a sponge. Green roofs capture water when it rains, slowly releasing it through evaporation and plant use. Green roofs can significantly reduce the amount of rain water that would otherwise run off an impervious roof surface. Additional benefits of green roofs can include:

  • increased energy efficiency
  • reduced noise levels
  • increased durability and lifespan of the roof compared to conventional roofs

Note: Structures must be able to support the loading of green roof materials under fully saturated conditions.

CONNECTICUT

Residents Guide to Green Roofs, Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (PDF) (2 pp, 534 K, about PDF) Exit
Introduces green roofs, including information on the types and benefits, and residential applications.

Green Roof Implementation Projects in Connecticut, Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (PDF) (21 pp, 3.4 MB, about PDF) Exit
See examples from around the state.

Green Roofs/Blue Roofs, Reduce Runoff, Smart Ways to Reduce Harmful Effects of Stormwater Runoff, Save the Sound, Connecticut Fund for the Environment Exit
Basic information on green roofs and blue roofs; includes a schematic and local projects.

Connecticut Stormwater Manual, Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Exit
Chapter 4 includes information on green roofs (PDF) (21 pp, 2.4 MB, about PDF) Exit.

MAINE

Maine Stormwater Best Management Practices Manual, Maine Department of Environmental Protection Exit
Volume 3, Chapter 10 includes information about green roofs.

MASSACHUSETTS

Rain Welcomes Green Bus Shelters on the Fairmount Corridor, Greenovate Boston
In July 2014 three bus shelter green roofs were installed as part of the Fairmount Line Bus Shelter Living Roof Initiative. The many project partners include the EPA Region I Soak Up the Rain Campaign.

Green Roofs and Stormwater Management, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Exit
Information on green roof benefits and costs.

Massachusetts Nonpoint Source Pollution Management Manual, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Exit
Commonly called the Clean Water Toolkit, this manual includes factsheets and tools to help residents, towns and businesses choose practices to protect water quality. Chapter 4 includes information about green roofs. 

Ipswich River Project Exit
A project to implement and measure the effectiveness of several low impact development and water conservation demonstration projects. Includes rain gardens, permeable pavement, a green roof, and rain water harvesting with cisterns.

Find resources and assistance for soaking up the rain on your property.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

A Green Roof Grows in Manchester Exit
Information, including a video and slide show on the green roof on City Hall in Manchester, New Hampshire.

New Hampshire Stormwater Manual, New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services Exit
Volume 2, Chapter 4 includes information on green roofs.

RHODE ISLAND

Rhode Island Stormwater Design and Installation Standards Manual, Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and Coastal Resources Management Council (PDF) (487 pp, 11 MB, about PDF) Exit
Chapter 5 contains information about green roofs.

VERMONT

Green Roofs, Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, Watershed Management Division Exit
Basic information about green roofs.

Vermont Low Impact Development Guide for Residential and Small Sites, Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (PDF) (54 pp, 4.7 MB, about PDF) Exit
Includes some basic introductory information about green roofs.

Other Resources

Green Roofs, Green Infrastructure, U.S. EPA

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