A new campaign is urging Anne Arundel County, Md., residents to find “beautiful solutions to water pollution” by installing rain gardens, rain barrels and other methods of absorbing polluted runoff before it makes its way into the Bay.
The RainScaping Campaign, which kicked off this Earth Day, is a social marketing effort supported by more than 30 organizations throughout Maryland. The purpose of the campaign is to help reduce the fastest-growing source of pollution to the Bay: the dirt, oil, fertilizers and pesticides that run off residents’ lawns, decks and driveways when it rains.
Hundreds of years ago, the Chesapeake watershed was covered by vast swaths of forests, which slowly absorbed and filtered rain water before returning it to groundwater and nearby streams. RainScaping methods attempt to replicate the natural flow of water in today’s environment, in which much of those forests have been converted to cities, towns and subdivisions that are dominated by paved, hardened surfaces.
“Though we’ve lost a big piece of the natural forest, there are ways we can replicate it” through RainScaping techniques, said Jeff Horan with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, one of the campaign partners.
The campaign is centered around a website that contains detailed information about RainScaping, including directions on how to build a rain garden, lists and photos of plants native to the Chesapeake region, and where to order a rain barrel. The website also asks visitors to take the “RainScaping Challenge” by registering their RainScaping projects.
The rain gardens, native plants and permeable pavers promoted by the RainScaping campaign are on display at the Chesapeake Ecology Center in Annapolis. The site boasts 24 native demonstration gardens that absorb and filter polluted runoff while providing a colorful garden setting on the banks of College Creek, a tributary of the Bay.
To learn how you can RainScape to “slow it down, spread it out and soak it in,” visit RainScaping.org.