By taking advantage of the work that healthy watersheds and freshwater ecosystems perform naturally, cities and rural areas can purify drinking water, alleviate hunger, mitigate flood damages, and meet other societal goals at a fraction of the cost of conventional technological alternatives. But because commercial markets rarely put a price on these “ecosystem services,” and because governments around the world are failing to protect them, they are being lost at a rapid rate. Global warming is the wild card that could further exacerbate the impacts of human activities on the natural systems that safeguard our water supply – impacts that include falling water tables, shrinking wetlands, vanishing species, and a decrease in both the quality and quantity of available freshwater.
Xeriscape Your Schoolyard
Xeriscape, or dry-scape, is a set of principles for water-wise landscaping. It’s all about planning and maintaining your landscape and watering efficiently. This sensible approach allows you to conserve water while enjoying an attractive yard. Xeriscape is based on seven water-wise landscape principles: 1) Planning and Design, 2) Soil Improvement, 3) Practical Turf Areas, 4) Mulch, 5) Efficient Irrigation, 6) Low Water-Use Plants, and 7) Appropriate Maintenance.
Rain Garden / Rain Barrel Projects
Mentor: Tom Falvey, South Carolina State Museum
American schools are catching on to rain gardens – landscaped areas planted with native vegetation to soak up rain water, mainly from the school roof. The rain garden fills with a few inches of water after a storm and the water slowly filters into the ground rather than running off to a storm drain. Compared to a conventional lawn, a rain garden allows about 30% more water to soak into the ground.
Why are rain gardens important? As cities and suburbs grow and replace forests and agricultural land, increased storm water runoff from impervious surfaces becomes a problem. Storm water runoff from developed areas increases flooding; carries pollutants from streets, parking lots and lawns into local streams and lakes; and leads to costly municipal treatment systems.
Rain gardens work for us in several ways. They:
- increase the amount of water that filters into the ground, which recharges local and regional aquifers.
- help protect communities from flooding and drainage problems.
- help protect streams and lakes from pollutants carried by urban storm water – lawn fertilizers and pesticides, oil and other vehicle fluids, harmful substances that wash off roofs and paved areas.
- enhance the beauty of school yards.
- provide valuable habitats for birds, butterflies and many beneficial insects.
Rain gardens DO NOT:
- Form ponds; a rain garden absorbs water and is dry between rainfalls.
- Breed mosquitoes; rain gardens drain too quickly to provide a breeding ground. They also attract dragonflies which eat mosquitoes.
- Require much maintenance; rain gardens utilizing native plants can be maintained with little effort once the plants are established.
- Cost much money; a school team can provide the labor. Many native plants may already exist on the school property or in family yards.
Lexington Countywide Stormwater Consortium Car Wash Fundraiser Program
The LCSC has partnered with local commercial car wash operators to assist groups with meeting their fundraising goals without holding the traditional car wash. Commercial car washing facilities direct their wash water to sanitary sewers where wash water is treated. Most commercial car wash facilities use special equipment to conserve and recycle the wash water at their facility. Using a commercial facility is the best choice when washing a car. By meeting your fundraising goals through a partnership with a commercial car wash facility, your organization can ensure that your next fundraiser will not be harmful to the environment. Lexington County community groups with 501(c)3 status, school groups and civic organizations click here for more information.
Everyone that would like to ensure your next car wash is good to the environment click here for helpful information.
Protect: Water Web Resources
- Carolina Clear
- Lexington Countywide Stormwater Consortium
- We All Live Downstream – Stormwater & Watershed Interactive Classroom Lessons – water quality educational materials for 5th-7th grades. These three Carolina Clear lessons are free and meet SC state science standards.
- We All Live Downstream Presentation – from the Coastal Waccamaw Stormwater Consortium.
- How Can I Make a Rain Barrel?
- Liquid Assets: The Critical Need to Safeguard Freshwater Ecosystems
- Web of Water from SCETV.
- What is Your Water Footprint? a Water Footprint Calculator from National Geographic.
Rain Water Harvesting
- Arizona Cooperative Extension offers “Catch the Rain! Rainwater Harvesting Activities 4-H2O: A Guide for 4-H Leaders and Teachers”. The Arizona Cooperative Extension through a grant with the National 4-H, Coca Cola Foundation, and the Southwest States & Pacific Islands Regional Water Program has developed a guide for 4-H Leaders and Teachers on rainwater harvesting. This collection of hands-on, interactive activities is designed to engage youth in understanding purposes, uses, applications, and designs of rainwater harvesting systems. Together, the activities promote a culture of conservation through the development of rainwater harvesting demonstration and use projects, encouragement of community awareness and action, and optimally the reduction of surface water and groundwater use. The activities were developed with grades 5-8 in mind. Topics include: Water Cycle, Conservation, Watersheds & Aquifers, Rainwater Harvesting Basics, Passive Rainwater Harvesting, Active Rainwater Harvesting, and Rainwater Harvesting Outreach. Click above, or here, to order individual copies on line for $15 per copy plus shipping. If you are interested in 10 or more copies, call CALSmart toll free at (877) 763-5315 to inquire about price and ordering.