The Berks-Mont News (

Longswamp Township EAC demonstrates how to create a rain garden

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Longswamp Township Environmental Advisory Council presents a demonstration rain garden workshop onMay 11.
“Our goal is to encourage Longswamp families to install rain gardens and rain barrels on their own properties to help filter pollutants and keep them from washing into local waterways. If each of us does our part to protect nature, we’ll ensure there is enough clean water for our families in the future,” said Kate Harms, chairperson, LongswampEAC.
Workshop attendees will have a hands-on opportunity to learn while doing during the rain garden construction. Guest speakers will share ways residents can enhance their properties and replace lawn areas with native trees and plants to create Birdtown habitats. Rain barrels will be offered to pre-registered attendees at a nominal fee.
The partners plan to create and install interpretive signs that will educate visitors about ways to create clean water solutions through attractive backyard habitats.
A small group of township residents that voluntarily act as an advisory board for local planning, land use, conservation, and other environmental issues within and outside their borders, the Longswamp Township EAC has been awarded a $5,000 grant by the Water Resources Education Network, a project of the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania Citizen Education Fund for its project titled: “Making a Difference in Your Own Backyard: Rain Gardens for Water Conservation and Wildlife Habitat.”
Longswamp Township is working with the Lehigh Valley Audubon Society to teach residents ways to reduce polluted runoff and remedy flooding problems using landscaping amenities like rain gardens and rain barrels. Rain washes off fields, roofs, yards, and down streets, parking lots, driveways, and sidewalks carrying road salt, motor oil, debris and other contaminants into waterways like the Toad Creek which flows to the Lehigh River and eventually to the Delaware River.
“Everybody can do their part for clean water,” said Harms, project chair. “Water in Longswamp Township is being polluted by runoff from farm fields in rural areas and lawns in suburban areas. Rain gardens and rain barrels are fairly easy to install and low cost. They help deal with water where it actually falls.”
They can also help channel rain away from homes to prevent basement flooding.
Built in a shallow depression and filled with native plants, rain gardens are beautiful solutions that soak up and filter polluted runoff from rooftops, driveways, parking lots and other hard surfaces.
“They are incredibly effective at reducing water pollution, especially when placed in clusters like in a neighborhood,” said Harms. “Like a sponge, rain gardens absorb water to replenish our aquifers and filter it naturally through native plants that also attract birds and butterflies.”
Rain barrels help capture and store rainwater for later use to water plants or to wash the car.
The project has been made possible through a Community Watershed Education Grant awarded by the Water Resource Education Network, a project of the PA League of Women Voters Citizen Education Fund. Grant funding is through the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Nonpoint Source Management Program and Section 319 of the federal Clean Water Act, administered by the Environmental Protection Agency.
How can you help reduce water pollution?
“Every drop of rain you keep on your property helps to keep our local waters clean. You can make a difference by installing rain barrels, rain gardens, planting trees, and educating yourself,” writes the Longswamp EAC.
Other ways include picking up pet waste, properly disposing of household chemicals, such as paints and cleaning supplies, sweeping driveways and sidewalks instead of hosing them, and washing cars at car wash facilities or on lawns rather than in driveways, where it can runoff to local streams.
For more information on Longswamp Township Environmental Advisory Council activities, visit their Facebook page at Longswamp Township EAC. Remember: only rain down the drain.