ALACHUA COUNTY, FL- In celebration of Earth Day 2011, the Alachua County Environmental Protection Department (EPD) will build rain gardens at three local schools to highlight the importance of protecting water quality, recharging the aquifer, and creating native habitats within our urban and sub-urban environments.
Rain gardens are shallow depressions that collect stormwater close to the source (usually roof runoff), and allow it to slowly infiltrate into the ground. They are one of many techniques highlighted in Low Impact Development (LID), a new approach to neighborhood design and stormwater management that seeks to improve water quality and mimic pre-development hydrology by creating several smaller treatment areas throughout a site instead of concentrating large amounts of stormwater in one location.
The benefits are multi-fold, and include better water quality treatment, flood abatement, and groundwater recharge, as well as improved groundwater protection in karst sensitive areas. Rain gardens are inexpensive and easy to install, and when planted with native species adapted to the area’s climate, can be an aesthetically pleasing alternative to traditional lawns. In this way, they not only help manage stormwater, but they further improve water quality by reducing inputs (irrigation, fertilizer, and pesticide needs).
Students at Kanapaha Middle, Glen Springs and Williams Elementary schools will help design and build the rain gardens as part of a yearlong EPA funded Environmental Education grant, and groundbreaking activities will begin on Thursday, April 21, 2011 at Kanapaha Middle School.
For more information, contact Eliana Bardi or Steve Hofstetter at 352-264-6800.