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EPA official tours Howard County rain gardens, touts how youth efforts are helping the Chesapeake Bay

Release Date: 07/01/2013
Contact Information: Roy Seneca (215) 814-5567

ELLICOTT CITY, Md. (July 1, 2013) -- EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin made a visit to Howard County today to get a close up look at rain gardens being developed by a local youth group to help control storm water runoff and benefit the Chesapeake Bay.

About 45 high school and college students aged 16-24 are participating this summer in the Restoring the Environment and Developing Youth program, also known as READY, where they will spend up to 40 hours a week creating more than 40 rain gardens at churches, schools and non-profit locations throughout Howard County.

“The work being done by these young people exemplifies how communities can come together and provide hands-on work to help the environment,” said Garvin. “Rain gardens like these in Howard County and throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed reduce the flow of storm water into creeks, streams and rivers that feed into the Chesapeake Bay.”

Garvin, who was joined by Maryland Department of Environment Secretary Robert M. Summers, visited a rain garden that was completed last year at the Companions of St. Anthony ministry on Folly Quarter Road in Ellicott City. The READY students will create a second rain garden on the property this summer.

Storm water runoff is a major cause of water pollution in urban areas and is the fastest growing source of pollution into the Chesapeake Bay. When rain falls on roofs, streets, and parking lots, the water cannot soak into the ground and carries trash, bacteria, heavy metals, and other pollutants into urban streams, damaging habitat, property, and infrastructure.

Rain gardens are shallow depressions planted with flood tolerant vegetation that capture rainfall and allow it to soak into the ground.

Last year, the READY program provided summer jobs to 29 youths who created 31 rain garden projects throughout the county, and this year the program will employ about 45 youths with a target to create 40 new gardens. The program is funded by Howard County and administered by the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay.

For more information, on green infrastructure and rain gardens, visit: http://water.epa.gov/infrastructure/greeninfrastructure/gi_what.cfm