If you are interested in building a beautiful, easy-to-maintain 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 3 p.m. on Friday, April 11th, at Carroll Electric, 5056 Hwy. 412 B, Huntsville, AR.
The academy includes hands-on experience building a rain garden, a Low Impact Development Manual, and lunch. The cost is $25 per person and $15 for students. Pre-registration is required. Participants may register on line at www.irwp.org. 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.
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.
“I planted a small rain garden in my front yard about five years ago,” said Amy Wilson, Director of Public Affairs for Beaver Water District. “It’s planted primarily with native plants that thrive in all kinds of weather. It’s attractive and easy to maintain. On top of that, I solved a water runoff problem where I had soil and pollutants washing off my property. Now the water slows down and soaks into the ground. It’s so satisfying to know that my rain garden is contributing to good water quality for the larger 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 three years to teach people how to put in rain gardens. We want people to realize that rain gardens are a cost efficient way 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.
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.