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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Can a Rain Garden Be Part of Lake Elkhorn’s Pollution Solution?

       While running past the dock at Lake Elkhorn this past week I noticed a sign that explained the development of a rain garden to control water and sediment runoff into Lake Elkhorn. The picture above shows the ground being prepared for probably a September planting.  I called CA to find out more about the project and was directed to Jan Clark who gave me some background on CA’s efforts to control runoff into Lake Elkhorn.  The rain garden in the picture is only a small part of the effort to control sediment that is causing the present dredging of the Lake.  

 Many efforts will take place throughout Owen Brown and Long Reach to keep the sediment from getting to the lake.  There will be other locations around Columbia that are being looked at including the possibility of one near the Athletic Club in Harper’s Choice.
All homeowners can make their own rain garden by observing how water runs off your property in a heavy rain.  Placement of the rain garden would be in a low level of your yard to capture the rainwater before it runs off your yard.  Plants to select are ones that tolerate heavy amounts of water and have some nice color.  The garden can be a nice ornamental addition to your yard as well as serve the sediment control purpose

The Columbia Association (CA) has developed a Columbia Watershed Management Plan
(CWMP or Plan) to:
Reduce stormwater impacts on the Columbia watersheds from impervious areas to help
restore and protect the streams
Preserve, maintain, and improve watershed habitats to support appropriate native flora and fauna
Preserve, maintain, and improve the water quality of the streams to benefit humans,
wildlife, and aquatic life
Improve stream-based quality of life and environmentally friendly recreational opportunities
for residents of and visitors to the Columbia watersheds
Given the geographic possibilities in the Phase 1 study area, the CWMP Team determined
that the restoration projects should be concentrated in the Lake Elkhorn subwatershed

The efforts that CA plans attack the problem from a couple of angles with include:

Restoration projects (or retrofits), such as bioretention facilities, that can be constructed
to restore the natural drainage (predevelopment hydrology) by retaining and infiltrating
stormwater that is currently going directly into streams through storm drains and pipes

Community actions that individual residents or businesses can undertake to reduce their
contribution to stormwater runoff and associated pollutants, such as redirecting down
spouts and reducing fertilizer use

The Plan includes priority lists of restoration
Reestablishing stream buffers in neighborhoods with inadequate buffers
Downspout disconnection into pervious areas, installation of rainbarrels, sustainable landscaping (“bayscaping”), and/or raingarden retrofits for additional volume control and infiltrationwhere space is available
Tree planting in neighborhoods with available space
Lawn care/fertilizer-use education and pet waste management (i.e., nutrient management)
in all neighborhoods which could include
- Creation of neighborhood composting centers for yard waste
- Educational signage at the existing dog parks
- Installation of pet waste management where applicable
Storm drain stenciling, whenever absent, and particularly in areas with heavy foot traffic

If you are interested in talking with some one at CA about creating a rain garden or want someone to talk to a community group you can contact John McCoy at


hoco Connect said...

Posting this information I received from John McCoy at CA:

We need all of Columbia’s residents to get involved in slowing the flow of stormwater and pollutants to our lakes and streams. Residents can do this with simple things like redirecting their downspouts onto their lawns, building a rain garden or a French drain, planting ground covers or mulching in areas where grass won’t grow, picking up after their dogs, only using fertilizer when and if needed.

A simple place to start is to do a soil test for your lawn. See if you really need that fertilizer. If you don’t fertilize your yard, take a soil sample anyway. CA is still providing free soil sample analysis for residents and is mapping the soil phosphorus levels in town to help assess phosphorus sources to the lakes. All you have to do is pick up a soil sample bag from your Village Association office and return the sample. CA will get it processed for you.

If you have any questions drop me an email,

Dandy said...

If there is moving water from stormwater than there is always the potential for contamination of local water sources (ie. rivers, lakes, dams, etc.)