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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

How the Columbia Association is working to make our lakes healthy

   I have blogged before on the use of rain gardens to control the sediment build up in Lake Elkhorn. Last week I met with John McCoy the Watershed Manager from the Columbia Association to discuss the creation of a rain garden in my yard.  This past Spring I noticed that during heavy rain storms my front yard has a small stream of storm runoff.  After reading about the cost sharing program that CA has to assist homeowners in putting in a rain garden I thought this would be an attractive way to address the issue (thanks to Sarah at the Sarahsaysblog to alert me to this program).  The rain gardens, installed by a landscaping company, vary in size from 250 sq. ft. to 104 sq. ft.  CA has received a grant from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to pay for 75% of the cost of the rain gardens. The cost to the homeowner varies from $450 to $988 depending on the size and types of materials used.  Getting a landscaping job worth almost $4000 for $988 is a good deal.
The pictures above show some of the attractive flowers and plants they use.
The picture above is the type of rain garden they install.

       Residents interested in having CA install one of these gardens will first have to get approval from their Village Architectural Committee.  These gardens have already been approved in Owen Brown, Wilde Lake and Long Reach.  Approval from the Committees should be easy.  If you are interested in having a rain garden installed you can reach John at
     John also mentioned some other ways they are using rain gardens around Columbia.  The pictures above show a garden CA is building between parking lots off of Dobbin Road.  Having run the CA path that goes parallel to Dobbin Road I can attest to the amount of water that runs off of parking lots like the ones above.  Parking lots are some of the biggest sources of storm water runoff.  
     That is why I was encouraged to see the porous parking lot pictured above at the Robinson Nature Center.
   Another way that CA is trying to keep our lakes and ponds healthy is the placement of "floating plant islands" like the ones shown above in Jackson Pond in Long Reach.  In addition to being attractive to look at the roots of the plants absorb nutrients directly from the pond, reducing the phosphates and other nutrients in the pond while flourishing plants bloom on the floating island and provide shelter and nesting areas for birds, turtles and other pond creatures.

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