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Chester County Press

Conservation program asks homeowners to 'Catch the Rain'

02/18/2019 02:25PM ● By J. Chambless

By John Chambless
Staff Writer

In terms of its benefit to the environment, your green lawn is not green. Mowed lawns shed about 90 percent of the rainwater that falls on them, contributing runoff to local streams.

In parts of Chester County, stormwater washing off the land is the largest source of pollution in the White Clay Creek. If it's not properly managed, almost all of the rain that falls on paved surfaces, mowed lawns and patios ends up as stormwater runoff.

The White Clay Wild & Scenic River Program and the Brandywine Conservancy have developed a program called “Catch the Rain” that invites White Clay watershed homeowners to learn more about green stormwater projects through on-site property visits. Homeowners are eligible to receive a lifetime total of $2,500 per property in rebates if they perform certain projects, such as adding rain barrels, rain gardens, tree canopies and conservation landscape plantings.

According to the White Clay Wild & Scenic River Program (www.Whiteclay.org), rain that falls on forests and meadows gradually soaks into the sponge-like soils; pollutants are filtered out, groundwater is replenished, and stream water swings between flood and drought levels are evened out, preserving more constant stream flows and protecting aquatic life.

Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) practices can help capture, detain and infiltrate rain, mimicking natural ecosystems. GSI systems are proven to simulate natural soil filtering and reduce stormwater volumes and speeds. Smaller lawns also cut down on mowing and fertilizer/pesticide applications.

GSI projects can also enhance community beauty, increase property values, and provide habitats for birds and pollinators.

During a home visit, representatives will explain simple installations and procedures that will help save the environment, such as rain barrels, rain gardens, pervious paving retrofits or removal of existing paving, conservation landscape plantings and canopy tree plantings.

“Catch the Rain” is intended for suburban homeowners in the White Clay watershed, especially in older subdivisions lacking stormwater basins. Projects could be as simple as planting native shade trees over a driveway, installing a bed of native wildflowers, or catching rain from a roof to reuse on a lawn or garden.

To apply for enrollment in the White Clay Water “Catch the Rain” program, call 484-716-6836 or email mpc@whiteclay.org with subject line: Catch The Rain. Interested homeowners can also complete the online application at www.whiteclay.org/CatchTheRain. A professional will be in touch to schedule a site visit, explain the program, and tour the yard to measure, make notes, and make custom recommendations. The site visit will take about an hour. Two to three weeks after the site visit, general recommendations will be sent, including a schedule to install the features, and estimated price and rebate amounts available.

In some cases, homeowner options such as the type of rain garden, paving choice, and connections of more than one feature (such as taking rain barrel overflow into a rain garden) will be discussed. White Clay Watershed Association has local partners who will work to have projects installed.

The program rebate of a known percentage of the total cost will be made after a final project inspection by a Catch the Rain representative.


To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, email jchambless@chestercounty.com.

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