Tri-C’s Greg Malone advocates for rain gardens in Cleveland.com guest column
April 14, 2017
Spring thunderstorms can wash a lot more than water into Lake Erie.
When heavy rain falls, the ground can’t absorb it fast enough. Compounding the problem is the amount of impervious surface area in urban and suburban settings. Water runs off roads, driveways and parking lots, streams into sewer basins, creeks and other lower-lying areas, and ultimately into the lake.
The runoff is laced with a cocktail of pollutants – lawn chemicals, oil, antifreeze and animal excrement, among others. Depending on where the water travels after it hits the ground, it can completely bypass the water treatment system. Lake Erie is the source of most of the region’s tap water, so polluted water that arrives in the lake can end up coming out of your household faucets a short time later.
Pollutants also contribute to the problematic algae blooms that can spread across Lake Erie’s surface during the summer. Most prominently, the city of Toledo was deprived of safe tap water for several days in 2014 due to a severe algae bloom.
There are many fronts in the battle against runoff pollution, but Greg Malone, the plant science program manager at Cuyahoga Community College’s Eastern Campus, recommends homeowners fight it at the source. In a guest column that appeared on Cleveland.com earlier this month, Malone outlines the benefits of installing rain gardens as a part of your yard’s landscaping.
Rain gardens are a landscaping feature designed to catch runoff water and divert it into the ground via permeable soil. Malone provides the basics on how rain gardens should be located and constructed, and how the practice of installing rain gardens on a large scale could help to lessen the hazards of water pollution before it becomes a full-blown crisis.