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It's Raining . . . Gardens!

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UMD Rain garden
Hilarie Sorensen, Minnesota Sea Grant’s climate change extension educator, stands near one of UMD's rain gardens.

A Year Later: Managing Flood Effects with Rain Garden

6-8 pm, July 24-25 and August 7-8
UMD's Chester Park Building, 31 College Street
$25, $5 additional family members
Sponsored by Regional Stormwater Protection Team
and MN Sea Grant

Registration includes a copy of
The Blue Thumb Guide to Raingardens,
workshop materials, and refreshments.

blue thumb guide University of Minnesota Duluth  

In June 2012, torrential rains began falling in Duluth, Minn., in a way that closed industries, ripped through streets, and drowned zoo animals. The record-breaking rainfall also forced a retooling of stormwater management strategies in Northland communities.
“When possible, damaged stormwater pipes, culverts, and bridges are being replaced with ones that can endure larger rainfalls,” said Hilarie Sorensen, Minnesota Sea Grant’s climate change extension educator. “Some of the new culverts even mimic natural streams so that they can serve as fish refuges during times when flow rates are exceptionally high. But upgrading traditional infrastructure isn’t the only angle Duluth is taking to manage stormwater. The city is also investing in green infrastructure such as swales and rain gardens.”
This summer, at least ten new rain gardens will dot Duluth through the work of the Duluth Stream Corps, a project of Community Action Duluth funded by the Environmental Protection Agency. In support of this approach to stormwater management and water quality preservation, Minnesota Sea Grant is encouraging landowners to construct their own rain gardens.
“It is impressive how effective a well-built rain garden can be in keeping water away from a house,” said Cristina Villella, stormwater management assistant with Minnesota Green Corps. “For landowners and communities around the world, rain gardens have become a proven and picturesque way to help control stormwater.”
Villella is coordinating two rain garden workshops in Duluth on behalf of the Regional Stormwater Protection Team. Each workshop will take place over two evenings from 6-8 pm and cover the same material. Registration is $25; additional people from the same household can attend for $5. The workshop dates are July 24–25 and August 7–8. Villella said the workshops will be informative, hands-on, and fun for anyone interested in learning how to design, install, and maintain a rain garden. For additional information on the rain garden workshops, contact Minnesota Sea Grant at 218-726-8106 or email Villella at
“As Northland communities and residents continue to repair an estimated $80 million in damage to public infrastructure, they need to also continue to be proactive in preparing for a new paradigm of rainfall,” said Sorensen.

About Sea Grant Minnesota
Sea Grant facilitates interactions among the public and scientists to enhance the environment and economies along Lake Superior and Minnesota's inland waters by identifying information needs, fostering research, and communicating results. Minnesota Sea Grant is funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the University of Minnesota. It is part of NOAA Sea Grant, a nationwide network of 33 similar science-based programs.

Cheryl Reitan, July 2013, Bottom photo by Chris J. Benson.

rain garden - university of minnesota duluth
A rain garden captures water that runs off a hillside, roof, driveway, parking lot, or other areas. Rain gardens are often planted with native trees, shrubs and flowers to collect polluted stormwater runoff. The garden acts like a sponge and allows water to slowly filter into the ground, resulting in healthier lakes and waterways.

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UMD home page editor, Cheryl Reitan,

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