Reducing Runoff Through Rain Gardens

Rain gardens are becoming increasingly popular, and the June edition of the 2009 Door County Environmental Speaker Series will help local residents learn more about this runoff-reducing feature.

Presented by Door Property Owners, Inc. (DPO) and Going Garbage & Recycling Inc (GGRI), the June program is presented by Chad Cook, who works with the University of Wisconsin-Extension as the Basin Educator for Natural Resources, and Greg Coulthurst, a conservationist with the Door County Soil & Water Conservation Department.

The program takes place Thursday, June 11 at 7 pm at the Ray and Ruthie Stonecipher Astronomy Center (use entrance at corner of Utah Street and Cove Road, east of Hwy. 42/57) in Sturgeon Bay. Part of the program may take place outdoors, so attendees are encouraged to dress for weather. A new rain garden has just been constructed on the grounds of the Astronomy Center and will be used as an example.

A rain garden is a planted depression that allows rainwater runoff from impervious areas such as roofs, driveways and walkways the opportunity to be absorbed. These types of gardens reduce rain runoff by allowing stormwater to soak into the ground as opposed to flowing into storm drains and surface waters which can cause erosion, water pollution, and flooding. Rain gardens can often cut down on the amount of pollution reaching nearby creeks and streams by up to 30 percent.

Cook will introduce the concept of nature’s water cycle, and how our current living conditions have altered this cycle – to the detriment of our natural systems. Cook will then discuss the concept of rain gardens and how they can be used to increase filtration before wrapping up with how to design and build a rain garden.

Greg Coulthurst will take Chad’s presentation a step further by discussing the challenges and concerns with installing rain gardens in Door County, such as shallow soils, karst, contaminant sources, and more.

For more information on the 2009 Environmental Speaker Series, call Christi Decker at 920.854.2114.