COLUMBIA - A week after the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, communities are still looking for ways to solve the problem of dirty creeks, streams and rivers. An increasing number of urban areas means more buildings and parking lots, and less places for storm water runoff to go after a rain storm.
One way communities like Columbia are working to prevent this is by installing rain gardens.
Rain gardens not only beautify property, but also collect and filter rain water polluted with oil from cars and pesticides while running over surfaces like pavement and grass, keeping it out of nearby streams and rivers.
Missouri River Communities Network official Steve Johnson said the most drastic consequence of not handling the storm water problem is the potential for streams and rivers to go from being just unhealthy, to completely lifeless.
For those with doubts about the benefits of rain gardens, Johnson said there are a few things people should keep in mind.
- They're inexpensive. Rain gardens can be any size, making it easy to maintain one in a park or your backyard.
- While rain gardens might resemble marshland, a perk of rain gardens is that owners don't need to fear attracting pesky mosquitoes. The garden will filter the water in one or two days, so even if adult mosquitoes do lay their eggs after a storm, larvae will have no way to thrive once they hatch.
Right now, Johnson says there haven't been enough studies done to know what type of rain garden is most effective.
But regardless of the type, Johnson says simply having a rain garden is sure to make a difference.