Pollution Solutions: Rain Gardens, Rain Barrels

Sourced from the Osceola News-Gazette

Summer is coming. And with the heat, comes rain.

Where does all this rainwater go? Some of it soaks into the ground, some evaporates back into the air, but some also runs off into water bodies.

Rain that runs off the ground is called stormwater runoff. Stormwater runoff can pollute our water bodies and significantly impact the environment, economy, and human health.

As our community grows, so too does the amount of roads, sidewalks, parking lots and roofs. These hard, “impervious” surfaces make it difficult for the ground to soak up rainwater. Instead, water runs off the pavement picking up fertilizer, pesticide, litter and other pollutants along the way. The polluted water runs into the nearest stormwater drain or water body, where it can seriously harm the environment. Pollution not only harms plants and animals, but can also impact human health and the economy.

How does this happen? Take for example algae blooms. While algae blooms are a natural occurrence, water polluted with nutrient-rich fertilizer can worsen a bloom by “feeding” it. The algae blocks sunlight and oxygen levels decrease. This can kill the vital plant communities and aquatic animals down below. This affects industries such as boating, fishing and tourism that rely on clean water and healthy plants and animals.

Thankfully, there is a way to reduce stormwater runoff that not only protects the environment, but is also beautiful and can provide opportunities for recreation and education. This stormwater management approach is called low impact development (LID).

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