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Environment Matters Audio Podcast

Environment Matters
EPA Region 3
Topic: Rain Gardens for the Bays Campaign
Size: : 3,806k
Time: 04:03

Date: June 19, 2012

[Opening music]

Nancy Grundahl: Welcome to another in our series of podcasts for Environment Matters. EPA has been looking into ways to reduce the amount of stormwater that runs off of our land and into our surface waters. Stormwater often carries sediment and other pollutants with it. And, stormwater can cause erosion. Hi, this is Nancy Grundahl from the Water Protection Division at EPA's Mid-Atlantic Office.

Sue McDowell, an ecologist from our Office of State and Watershed partnerships is promoting an innovative approach to improving the quality of the waters in the bays here in the mid-Atlantic region -- the Rain Gardens for the Bays Campaign.

Susan McDowell: Our Campaign goal is to encourage people who live near our coastal and inland bays to construct rain gardens on their properties. By keeping rain water on your property, less polluted stormwater enters nearby streams. They help improve water quality in the Delaware Inland Bays, the Delaware Estuary and the Maryland Coastal Bays. EPA is working with our Mid-Atlantic state and national estuary partners, with the University of Delaware, the Delaware Nature Society and many other states, local and nonprofit organizations.

Nancy Grundahl: Sue explains how rain gardens capture runoff.

Susan McDowell: Rain gardens are not only beautiful and low maintenance; they are an effective stormwater management practice.   Briefly, rain gardens are built by removing soil so that you have a shallow depression, generally a depth of 8-12 inches is adequate. You then plant your rain garden with native trees, shrubs and perennial plants that can grow in both wet and dry soil. Water is directed into the garden from your roof, your driveway or from any other impervious surface. Some of the water is absorbed by the plants. Some of the water seeps into the soil. Both the plants and soil help to filter out pollutants. Rain gardens, if well designed, wont hold water more than 24 to 48 hours, so mosquitoes wont breed there.  And by choosing native plants, your rain garden can provide food and shelter for wildlife, particularly birds and butterflies. If you do the work yourself, construction should cost about $3 to $5 per square foot.

Nancy Grundahl: Sue has some suggestions about the best place to locate your rain garden and where to get design ideas.

Susan McDowell: Yes, your rain garden should be at least 10 feet away from building foundations, underground utilities, and septic system drainage. If the building does not have a basement, then the garden should be at least 2 feet away. Locate the garden so that water can drain from a natural slope or from a downspout. There are lots of designs for rain gardens on the web. Or, you can go directly to the Rain Gardens for the Bays website at: www.raingardensforthebays.org. Check out the Rain Garden Gallery for photos and design ideas. Plus, we have nearly 30 demonstration rain gardens installed at public locations, such as town halls and schools, located in Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania.  You will be able to see firsthand, just how attractive and effective they can be. Rain gardens are a great way to handle stormwater!

Nancy Grundahl: Sue says there are a number of places where you can go to get help if you need it.

Susan McDowell: Most State Cooperative Extension Services have information on rain gardens, like the one at the University of Delaware.  Or, contact the Partnership for the Delaware Bay, the Center for the Inland Bays or the Maryland Coastal Bays offices or check out their websites. Plant nurseries and gardening organizations may also be able to help. And, once you've finished your rain garden, go to the Rain Gardens for the Bays website and register your garden!

Nancy Grundahl: We thank Sue for being our guest today, and thank you to our listeners for joining us on Environment Matters.

[Closing music]

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