Rain Gardens Can Help Alleviate Impacts of Climate Change

Rain Gardens Can Help Alleviate Impacts of Climate Change

Pennoyer Park Neighborhood, Root-Pike WIN—Milwaukee
Susan Greenfield, Executive Director, Root-Pike WIN

Rain, snow, sleet—all kinds of precipitation is on the rise in the Great Lakes. According to the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts (WICCI), southeastern Wisconsin has been experiencing increased annual rainfall and increased and more intense precipitation in recent years. More rain means more runoff and more pollution to our lakes. It may also mean a greater chance for a wet basement!

One increasingly popular adaptive solution to help alleviate this situation is to create rain gardens. According to the Root-Pike Watershed Initiative Network (Root-Pike WIN), a 300-square foot rain garden can infiltrate 12,000 gallons of water every year. Soil, fertilizers, and pollutants are trapped and filtered out by the plants within the garden, allowing the water to soak through to recharge the groundwater supply. Rain gardens need little maintenance and they add natural beauty to a neighborhood.

In 2011, 20 rain gardens were created by Root-Pike WIN in the Milwaukee area (some funding was provided by Freshwater Future). One of these, located at a local business in Pennoyer Park Neighborhood within the city of Kenosha, is helping to reduce the amount of pollution that drains to the local beach.

According to Root-Pike WIN executive director Susan Greenfield, “Our rain garden workshops are attracting around 150 people a year.” All told, the organization has funded 90 rain gardens through an active outreach and education effort.

Through education programs and rain garden workshops, Root-Pike WIN has in- creased awareness of climate change and provided practical tools that will help resi- dents reduce risks of flooding and help to keep public beaches cleaner.

In our last two newsletters, Freshwater Future has highlighted two climate grants that utilized rain gardens to help communities adapt to climate change. There are many other tools and approaches available for Great Lakes communities. Please visit our website, www.freshwaterfuture.org and www.cakex.org to learn more.

 

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Images courtesy of Steven Huyser-Honig,
West Grand Boulevard Collaborative, & Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve.