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Environmental and Forestry : Water


“Water that dinosaurs drank is still consumed by humans and the amount of freshwater on earth has not changed significantly for millions of years.“
(Michael Specter, “The Last Drop”, the New Yorker, 10/23/06.)

Most of the water on earth is ocean. We have a finite amount of potable water and a growing demand. We are taking water out of the earth faster than we are replenishing it. If we do not alter our present course it will be catastrophic, what we can do:

Reduce Waste
- Drink tap water
- Do full loads of laundry
- Install water efficient devices at home and in municipal buildings

Reduce Pollution
- Use only organic fertilizers
- Do not use products with phosphorus
- Clear oil spills so they do not end up on the street and the storm sewer
- Keep litter and pet wastes out of storm sewers
- Plant trees and ground cover to stabilize soil and reduce erosion

Reduce Usage
- Plant water efficient landscapes
- Use native and drought tolerant plants
- Group plants with same water needs
- Prepare soil properly with compost to help prevent run off
- Smart irrigation, early morning, evening. Use drip irrigation
- Recycle water for gardening by disconnecting drain pipes and installing rain barrels
- Create a rain garden

What is a Rain Garden?
A rain garden is a shallow depression with a flat bottom. It is planted with moisture loving perennial plants. The rain captured in the garden is filtered by the deep root systems of the native plants and replenishes the ground water. It is specifically designed to help slow runoff full of pollutants into the storm sewer and helps to prevent flooding. Once established, the rain garden requires minimal maintenance.

Benefits of a Rain Garden:
Rain gardens are important because they help prevent flooding, filter pollutants and prevent runoff into our lakes, rivers and streams. Rain gardens increase bird, butterfly and insect habitat and they decrease the size of a high maintenance water dependent lawn and they are beautiful. One of the many ways to protect our lakes, rivers and streams is the planting of a rain garden.

What do I plant in a Rain Garden?
A rain garden should be planted at least 10 feet from your home or a neighbors and it requires at least six hours of sun per day.

Water loving native plants suitable for a rain garden include:
Bearded Foxglove
Birds Foot Violet
Blackeyed Susan
Blue Vervain
Butterfly Weed
Cardinal Flower
Culver’s Root
Evening Primroseh
Great Blue Lobelia
Joe Pye Weed
Lead Plant
Little and Big Bluestem
New England Aster\Harebell
Nodding wild Onion
Prairie dock
Prairie Smoke
Purple Coneflower
Rattlesnake Master
Red Milkweed
Showy Goldenrod
Sky Blue Aster
Switch Grass
Wild Iris
Woodland Phlox

Protect Your Waterways from Pollution:  A Homeowner’s Guide

Communities take pride in their waterfronts.  But not everyone who lives by waterways realizes that the way you maintain your home could be polluting your precious resources.  A heavy rain can carry fertilizer from lawns, oil from driveways, chemical residues from walls and decks, and pet waste through storm sewers and into the open waters.

Don’t let your home contribute to the pollution that’s being washed into our waterways.  Follow the Natural Resources Defense Council homeowners guide for great tips to keep our waterways clean.