Programs in Chicago and the suburbs help property owners save water, energy, money and the environment
Too often, heavy rains conjure flooded basements, murky pools of water mucking up neighborhood streets, damaged property – and hefty price tags for residents, business owners, and municipalities that have to clean up the mess. It doesn't have to be this way. Instead of rain being a nuisance, we can turn it into the free resource it should be by changing our built environment in large and small ways. Property owners in Chicago and its suburbs have support to help them do just that, thanks to a couple of unique, local organizations on a mission to help people not only weather the storms in their own backyards, but then do something productive with all that water.
In the City of Chicago, Sarah Abu-Absi manages the Sustainable Backyards Program, part of the city’s Dept. of Transportation and established by Chicago’s 2003 Water Agenda, which called attention to our need for water conservation and preservation. Chicago’s Sustainable Backyards Program provides residents with knowledge and incentives to help them create more environmentally friendly landscapes in their own yards. Signature initiatives include free educational workshops and a rebate program that offers up to 50 percent off local purchases of specific trees, native plants, rain barrels, and compost bins (helpful for providing nutrients for your new trees and native plants.)
In the suburbs, another Sarah – this time Sarah Surroz – runs the Conservation@Home program, managed in Lake County by Conserve Lake County and in Kane, Kendall, DuPage and Will counties by The Conservation Foundation. Conservation@Home is a public outreach program focused on both commercial and residential properties that promotes sustainable landscapes, water conservation, clean soil, and rich ecosystems.
The WOWW Factor
The storage capacity of a “fat boy” water wall, an evolution in rain barrel technology. Standard rain barrels hold 55 gallons.
The amount of rainwater intercepted by a mature evergreen tree in a year.
The amount of rain that falls during a 1-inch storm on a modestly sized single-family home.
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