Rain Gardens

by yv at holdfast, 21 Mar 2019

Picture Source: NYC Environmental Protection

Rain gardens are a great WSUD initiative. Here are some of the reasons why.

Have you ever wondered what happens to the rain water before its goes into the ocean?......

Many people think the storm water gets captured, treated and returned to the water supply but in reality it goes through our gutters and down pipes, across lawns, driveways and roads and then enters the ocean through our outlet pipes. At each point along this process the stromwater picks up debris and pollutants that all get washed out to the ocean too.

In nature the rainwater infiltrates into the streams and rivers through the aquifer and natural waterways which keep a generally constant and steady supply of flowing water all year round that finally arrives at the ocean ready for the water cycle and precipitation to start all over again.

In our urban environments stormwater is hindered from entering the aquifer through ground water infiltration and is generally diverted into our stormwater pipe networks. These networks are designed to take water directly to the ocean which misses out some of the key steps of the natural model. Therefore the water flows can occur in irregular patterns of high and low flows which are often too much for the stormwater system to handle. This can cause heavy erosion to our waterways, sediment build up and flash flooding.

Rain gardens can help to solve all of these issues. By creating rain gardens we are effectively putting part of that natural water process back into the storm water system.

What is a rain garden?

A rain garden is an area of deep rooted plants, vegetation and even trees that is designed to temporarily capture stormwater runoff so it can infiltrate the soil and feed the plant life.

Benefits of rain gardens:

- providing habitat for flora and plant pollinators

- reduce stormwater surges

- reduced pollution to the oceans

- better looking streetscapes

- pollutants in stormwater are used as nutrients through plant uptake

- reductions to potential flooding and water pooling

With stronger rainfall patterns predicted due to climate change our stormwater systems are now more important than ever. Rain gardens and other WSUD treatments are a great way to reduce the demand on the stromwater network. Not only do they assist with the stormwater management but they offer urban greening efforts and kerb appeal.

As a resident you too can get in on the action and look at adding a rain garden to your property improving your landscape and helping to assist with stormwater management to both your property and your community. Visit www.melbournewater.com.au/community-and-education/help-protect-environment/raingardens for factsheets and advice on building your own rain garden.

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