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Rain garden project in Plymouth parking lot is 'gold standard'

Person planting a rain garden at Plymouth Arts and Recreation Complex A parking lot in Plymouth is getting a lot of attention these days for its rain gardens that reduce flooding and pollution. Its 23 rain gardens have been called the gold standard when it comes to directing rainwater. A rain garden is a depressed area in the landscape that collects rainwater from a roof, driveway or street and allows it to soak into the ground.

The project -- on the Plymouth Arts and Recreation Complex (PARC) property in the Rouge River watershed -- was completed thanks to a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean Water Act grant from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) to the Friends of the Rouge. The area near the Rouge River is among the most urbanized communities in southeast Michigan and suffers from flashy flows and poor water quality because many surfaces are impervious. The Rouge has a large percentage of urban land use and associated impervious surfaces. Therefore, water quality and aquatic life are impaired by storm water discharges in large portions of the watershed. Projects like this help filter pollutants and infiltrate storm water before it enters rivers, creeks, or storm drains.

Look for more rain gardens in the Rouge River area in the coming years.  The same technology used to treat runoff at PARC can be sized to treat runoff from roofs and pavement at most homes across the Rouge River watershed. The goal of the RainSmart campaign is to have 1,000 residential rain gardens in the Rouge watershed by 2025.

Interested in becoming a rain gardener? Check out this online class offered by Washtenaw County. The course materials and videos are free.

More information on EGLE-funded rain garden and other nonpoint source projects is available on the Nonpoint Source Project website.

Photo caption: Person planting a rain garden at Plymouth Arts and Recreation Complex. 

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