MARIETTA - If members of the Friends of the Lower Muskingum River have their way, gardens will be popping up around town that are not only beautiful but beneficial.
According to Watershed Coordinator Jesse Daubert, the organization has applied for a general grant of $11,188 through the Ohio Environmental Education Fund, a part of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, to install rain gardens in five locations throughout Marietta.
"We are looking at the gazebo at Muskingum Park -we've been working with the city on that - at the high school, at Marietta College and we're leaving the other two spots open," Daubert said. "We would like to do a residential one."
The installation of the public rain gardens will be done as free educational workshops in the hopes of encouraging homeowners to build their own rain gardens.
A rain garden is typically built in a depressed area where water gathers from areas like roofs, driveways and parking lots. Homeowners might consider creating a rain garden near downspouts.
"In Marietta we have an issue with storm water runoff and flooding, especially in places like Goose Run," Daubert said. "Instead of putting this water into the creeks and rivers, we want to teach people how to put it back into the ground."
The Rain Gardens/Clean River initiative is a best management practice project the friends is initiating in Marietta. According to the organization's website, government studies have shown that 70 percent of the pollution in streams, rivers and lakes is carried there by storm water.
Building rain gardens to catch the water before it picks up things like cigarette butts and antifreeze allows it to be naturally filtered in the ground, according to Daubert.
The organization has created a rain garden at its offices at 348 Muskingum Drive, and helped to build a rain garden at Greenleaf Landscapes on Ohio 60.
"The rain garden was done in our container field at the base of a slope where we had a bog, a problem wet area at our nursery," said garden center manager Mike Ennemoser. "We've had people ask about it and I think the interest is growing."
The cost of rain gardens can vary, depending on size, soil quality and materials, Daubert said. Some of the plants used at Greenleaf include carex, cardinal flower, river birch, black-eyed susans and switchgrass. Native plants are usually recommended because they are tolerant of the soil, climate and water condition.
The status of the grant won't be known until November after the application is reviewed by outside experts and eventually approved by Ohio EPA Director Scott Nally, according to Dennis Clement, a spokesman with the agency, said.
"The money from the grant is derived from one-half of the civil penalties collected from violations of Ohio's air and water pollution control regulations," he explained.
According to the grant application, the proposed project would begin Nov. 30 and be completed in March 2014.
Regardless if the Friends of the Lower Muskingum River gets the grant, Daubert said work will continue on bringing rain gardens to the community.
"We are pretty passionate about this issue," he said.