Columbia residents can now adopt rain gardens

Tuesday, September 2, 2014 | 7:14 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Residents, families, groups and businesses now have the opportunity to improve water quality and reduce flooding by adopting city rain gardens.

Rain gardens are collections of deep-rooted plants in small depressions in the ground that absorb rainwater. These "environmentally friendly sponges" reduce sewer overflows and flooding and improve water quality, according to the Columbia Public Works Department website.

The first rain gardens offered for adoption are located along the South Providence Pedway between Green Meadows Road and Southampton Drive, according to a news release from the Public Works Department. More locations will be available for adoption in the future.

"Those gardens are needed there. There was a determined need in the area by Stormwater (Utility)," said Andrea Shelton, volunteer coordinator for the Public Works Department.

Potential volunteers should expect to commit to the project for two years and should plan to spend a minimum of eight to 10 hours annually on the garden, Shelton said. Volunteers for the program will remove invasive plants, pick up litter, add new plants and lay mulch in the garden.

Columbia isn't the only place where rain gardens are growing. Kansas City implemented a $5 million program in 2005 to plant rain gardens, according to the city's 2009 overflow control plan overview.

Supervising editor is Elise Schmelzer.

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