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Rain Gardens Matter: Simple Steps for the Cape Cod Homeowner

Did you know that based on the Association to Preserve Cape Cod (APCC’s) State of the Water Report many of our waterbodies have poor water quality? Do you understand how polluted stormwater runoff affects your favorite pond or embayment? We have reached out to a few Cape Cod experts to help tell the story about why rain gardens matter. 

But first, the problem. Polluted stormwater runoff is one of the culprits in the Cape’s declining water health. This includes the runoff that comes off your roof and driveway when it rains, picking up dirt, fertilizer, soaps, oils, metals, and even animal waste along the way. In addition to creating water quality issues, when your runoff joins up with your neighborhood’s runoff, it can cause flooding and erosion, damage infrastructure, destroy aquatic habitats, and close shellfishing areas and beaches. Yikes. But there is something simple you can do to help reduce your impact and beautify your yard at the same time—build a rain garden.

Horsley Witten Group (HW) is a local environmental and planning firm that tackles water quality issues throughout New England and beyond. Here in their own backyard, they have worked closely with municipalities and nonprofit organizations like APCC and Barnstable Clean Water Coalition (BCWC) on stormwater and wastewater projects to improve our waters. While much of their work involves complex plans and engineering designs, public education and outreach are extremely important to them, and they often incorporate workshops and hands-on trainings into their projects as well as their free time. This passion to reach more people led Michelle West, a Senior Water Resources Engineer at HW, to the development of a step-by-step guide to help homeowners tackle a rain garden project by themselves. She spoke with us recently to illustrate better the benefits of these landscaping features…



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