Rain gardens keep rain where it falls so that nature has a chance to filter pollutants from storm runoff. Additionally, they provide habitat for wildlife and are low maintenance and easy to manage, once they are established. Oftentimes, a rain garden performs better than a standard lawn when it comes to absorbing stormwater runoff.
If you are interested in building a rain garden but aren’t sure how to go about it, then you will want to attend the Rain Garden Academy hosted by Beaver Water District and the Illinois River Watershed Partnership from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, April 12th, at the Beaver Water District’s Administration Center & Water Education Center, 301 N. Primrose Road, near Lowell.
The academy will offer valuable resource materials including a Low Impact Development Manual, a tour of rain gardens at Beaver Water District, and lunch. The cost is $25 per person and pre-registration is required. Participants may register on line at www.irwp.org. Individuals affiliated with public and quasi-public institutions that are interested in applying for the Rain Garden Project Mini-Grant are encouraged to attend.
“The workshop is designed for homeowners, commercial developers, gardeners, nursery owners, landscapers and personnel who work for city, state, and county government, parks departments and anyone who wants to know more about rain gardens or connect with others who want to build and maintain rain gardens in the area,” said Amy Wilson, Director of Public Affairs for Beaver Water District. “I have a rain garden in my front yard and I rarely do any maintenance on it. On top of that, it’s attractive and I solved a water runoff problem in my front yard! I also get the satisfaction of knowing that my rain garden is contributing to good water quality for my community.”
Becky Roark, IRWP Rain Garden Resource Specialist, agrees. “Storm water is the number one pollutant in our nation’s waterways and rain gardens are a solution,” she said. “We’ve been working hard for almost two years to teach people how to put in rain gardens and to use grant funds for garden construction at public facilities in Northwest Arkansas. We have a grant application and we encourage people to apply online at www.irwp.org. The main thing we want people to realize is that a rain garden is one of the easiest and most cost efficient ways to manage wet weather and reduce storm water pollution.”
The Northwest Arkansas Rain Garden Project began on July 1, 2011, when the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission (ANRC) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded two grants totaling $350,000 to build rain gardens to improve water quality. Beaver Water District was awarded $139,000 and the Illinois River Watershed Partnership (IRWP) received $211,000 to build rain gardens in Northwest Arkansas – in the Beaver Lake Watershed and the Illinois River Watershed — over the next three years
The Illinois River Watershed Partnership is a diverse group of men and women who work to improve the water quality of the Illinois River. Visit irwp.org. Beaver Water District supplies drinking water to more than 300,000 people and industries in Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers, Bentonville and surrounding areas. Visit bwdh2o.org.