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Richmond Times-Dispatch: Rain gardens--A practical solution for water pollution

Richmond Times-Dispatch: Rain gardens--A practical solution for water pollution

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Rain is basically clean — until it passes along roads, businesses and communities. As water runs off roofs, paved surfaces and chemically treated lawns, it can pick up spilled gasoline, oil, road salt, fertilizer, pet waste and other pollutants.

If the contaminated water flows into ditches and storm drains, there's an increased risk for the pollutants to reach natural waterways. In fact, rainwater runoff has become the fastest-growing source of pollution to the Chesapeake Bay.

How can environmentally conscious businesses and homeowners respond?

One solution is construction of rain gardens to help manage the flow and quality of storm water. A rain garden, technically called a bioretention basin, is a man-made depression in the ground that catches and temporarily stores rainwater runoff.

In simple terms, the rain garden naturally filters out contaminants as water slowly penetrates through soil layers. The process improves water quality "nature's way," which is advantageous whether the water remains on site or enters the groundwater system...

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