EOS planting rain gardens in Tantramar communities this summer

Project serves as a natural approach to managing storm water runoff

Katie Tower ktower@sackvilletribunepost.com
Published on June 26, 2014

PORT ELGIN, N.B. – EOS Eco-Energy is planting rain gardens across the region this summer – a natural and sustainable measure that will help local communities adapt to climate change-induced flooding.

“It’s just a simple way to deal with storm water runoff and adapt to climate change and eliminate some localized flooding,” said Amanda Marlin, executive director of EOS.

Marlin said EOS has been awarded a $20,000 grant from the Environmental Trust Fund to plant the rain gardens in the Memramcook-Tantramar area and this year’s work will build upon efforts which got under way last year by the RCE Tantramar – which saw three gardens planted and tested in Sackville last summer.

“Last year was a pilot to see how they would work,” she said.

The rain gardens – which were planted at Salem Elementary School, Maple Avenue and on the front lawn of the former SGCI building –proved to be effective almost instantly, said Marlin, absorbing a great deal of storm water runoff and allowing it to naturally return into the ground following a rain event.

This year, a total of six new gardens will be planted – two each in Port Elgin, Dorchester and Memramcook. Each will measure between 70 to 80 square feet.

“This will help the communities a lot with their drainage problems,” said Marlin.

With climate change leading to greater storm events and intensities, Marlin said it’s necessary to start exploring ways to manage storm water runoff and to begin to implement measures to avoid potential flooding events.

“Rain gardens are a great way to deal with climate change and changing precipitation patterns.”

Rain gardens, which are created by making a depression several inches deep, are planted with deep-rooted native plants and grasses. They are designed to hold water for a short period of time and allow it to be taken up by the plants and absorbed into the soil where it is filtered naturally before reaching the groundwater supply. This allows rainwater to be absorbed more naturally into the ground instead of into the storm drains, and is also helpful in filtering pollutants from runoff away from the waterways.

“It stops the flow of water and lets it absorb more naturally into the ground,” explained Marlin, noting that rain gardens will absorb 30 to 40 per cent more rainwater than a standard lawn.

She said even smaller communities can have many impermeable surfaces that increase storm water runoff and put pressure on storm drains – so building rain gardens in parks, green areas, lawns, etc. is one of the easiest and most cost-efficient things people can do to reduce storm water runoff and adapt to climate changes.

Marlin encourages residents to consider building their own rain garden, which can also act as pollinator and butterfly gardens.

“You don’t need any fancy equipment . . . you can do it in one morning on your own property.”

For information on how to develop your own rain garden, visit www.eosecoenergy.com or contact Marlin at 536-4487.

Marlin said EOS is also looking for volunteers from the village of Dorchester to help plant the rain gardens in their community on Saturday, July 12. Contact her at the number above. EOS staff worked with Port Elgin volunteers to plant their gardens in front of the PEDVAC building and at their community park this past Monday.

EOS has also received funding from the Mount Allison students’ Green Investment Fund to install two electric vehicle chargers in Sackville. This project is still in the planning stages and more details will be announced over the next couple of months.