“The bottom line gets back to what’s right, which is sustainability,” said Township Supervisor John Nash. “The biggest polluter of our natural waterways is stormwater. If it rains hard, the rain washes off our roof, gutters, driveway, yard, street and curb — and it runs untreated into the river, which runs into the lake.”
The new 9-by-19-foot rain garden is designed to capture rain water, and hold it in underground storage tanks for use in dry conditions. A solar power pump will be added in the spring to sprinkle ornamental plants, which will also be added early next year, according to installer Joel Kammeraad of Complete Aquatics.
Kammeraad, a Spring Lake Township resident, spent two days installing the system — with the help of his sons: Derek, 22; and Riley, 17.
The township paid $3,500 for materials.
“Since I’m a citizen here, I said I’d volunteer my time,” Kammeraad said. “Once it gets planted next spring, it will be beautiful.
“These rain gardens are self-sustaining,” he continued. “We’re not only buffering the storm water, we’re also using a portion of that water in the landscape. It’s an active garden that is ready to respond to the next rainfall.”
A small waterfall provides aeration, according to Kammeraad, who has voluntarily installed about 10 systems this year for community groups and schools.
“Hundreds of them get installed around the country,” Kammeraad said. “There’s a lot of activity on the East Coast and the West Coast where there is a water shortage. We are basically surrounded by water as a township. It’s wonderful to participate in preserving that for the next generation.”
Nash said he and Spring Lake Township Board members will encourage developers and builders to install similar systems on their sites, rather than more traditional stormwater retention ponds.
“Retention ponds are very ugly, plus they take up a lot of valuable real estate,” Nash said. “This (rain garden) is economically sound.”
Nash said rain gardens can also cut down on the use, and cost, of city water.
“People are using municipal water to irrigate,” Nash said. “Plants don’t like chlorinated water, and municipal water costs money. If we start building developments with these storage basins, we’ll never have to expand our North Ottawa Water System plant.
“To me, there’s just no disadvantage,” the township supervisor said. “It makes so much sense every way you look at it.”