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Charlotte Raingarden

(Charlotte MI) Fifty three volunteers lent a hand to protect water quality in the Charlotte area. The volunteers worked with the Eaton Conservation District (ECD) and the City of Charlotte to install a raingarden and riprap ditch near the site of the City of Charlotte's Waste Water Treatment Plant.

The Eaton Conservation District received a $1,000 grant from the Doty Foundation towards materials for the raingarden implementation. ECD worked with the City of Charlotte to select the site. Volunteers were recruited from Olivet College, the Greater Lansing Adventist School, and from the Charlotte community. Over the two days of construction, the volunteers transported rocks, soil, mulch, and planted over 500 native plant plugs at the site.

The raingarden project is one of many water quality projects that the ECD has partnered with the City of Charlotte on. Other cooperative efforts include the Charlotte Wellhead Protection Team, the Battle Creek River dam removal and river restoration, and the Annual River Conservation Day.

The raingarden and riprap ditch were installed to handle stormwater run-off from roads and lawn. Stormwater is water that accumulates on land as a result of storms, and can include runoff from urban areas such as roads and roofs. Over the years the rainwater had eroded a ditch 2 feet deep and 30 feet long through the woods. The soil from the site was washed into the nearby Battle Creek River.

Sediment entering a river can cause turbidity in the water that limits light penetration and prohibits healthy plant growth on the river bed. Sediment also covers much of the river bed with a blanket of silt that smothers life. By covering up gravel and cobble, sediment destroys the spawning grounds and habitat of desirable fish species. Also, sediment is an important carrier of a critical pollutant: phosphorus. This nutrient stimulates excessive algae growth in the water. When the algae decomposes, it depletes dissolved oxygen from the water, reducing the quality of life forms that are able to survive.

To fix the erosion problems, a raingarden and riprap ditch were installed. A raingarden is a depression planted with deep-rooted native plants & grasses. Raingardens slow down the rush of water from hard surfaces, holds the water for a short period of time and allows it to naturally infiltrate into the ground. Over 20 species of native plants were planted at the site and were selected to have continuous blooming throughout the summer. To create the riprap ditch, volunteers lines the eroded area with geotextile fabric and lined the ditch with rocks.

In the future, the ECD plans on developing an educational display and recruiting volunteers for weeding and maintenance. To find out more about upcoming volunteer or water quality improvement projects, contact Andrea Stay at the Eaton Conservation District at (517) 543-5848 X 5.

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