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Entries in water treatment (1)

Thursday
Jul122012

Rain Gardens & Rain Barrels

We all learned about the water cycle in elementary school. It rains, plants and soil soak up water, plants evapotranspirate moisture back into the atmosphere and standing water evaporates, it rains. That's the simplified version. In reality, in our developed world, it takes a lot more steps for the water to go from the clouds to the ground again. Sewers, drains, and drywells capture runoff from impervious surfaces like asphalt, concrete and roofs and this water is either contained until it can slowly migrate back into the soil through the perforated wall of a concrete drywell, or it is sent to a sewage treatment plant to be treated with chemicals and reintroduced into our water cycle. The more impervious surfaces that cover our earth, the more water that is treated and wasted.
 
How can we lessen the impact on our drainage systems? Rain gardens. Let the soil and plants naturally filter out impurities and toxins from the runoff, as in other unpaved areas, and have a beautiful, diverse garden to enjoy. Sure, you can get a backhoe and even a crane to come in and dig down until you hit drainable material, then install drywells, and surface drains, but that is expensive. While it is currently the accepted way to deal with storm water runoff, it adds yet another step to a natural process that worked fine before human intervention.
 
You can also try a rain barrel. Hook one up to your downspout and use it for irrigation. Why pay the water company for treated water when you can collect it unpolluted for free? Some water tolerant (aka "likes wet feet") plants for these areas would be acorus, clethra, iris, daylily, bog rosemary, hypericum, and willow among others.