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North Carolina Coastal Federation teaches people how to help preserve waterways

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Woofter made this model of stormwater solutions, such as downspout disconnectors and rain gardens. (Source: WECT) Woofter made this model of stormwater solutions, such as downspout disconnectors and rain gardens. (Source: WECT)
Woofter tells visitors at the North Carolina Coastal Federation how to create their own rain garden. (Source: WECT) Woofter tells visitors at the North Carolina Coastal Federation how to create their own rain garden. (Source: WECT)
The North Carolina Coastal Federation hosted a forum at their new Wrightsville Beach office. (Source: WECT) The North Carolina Coastal Federation hosted a forum at their new Wrightsville Beach office. (Source: WECT)
WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) -

The City of Wilmington and other organizations have been working to improve water quality through different best management practices. Now, the North Carolina Coastal Federation is spreading the word about how people can help this cause on their own property.

"We live in a beautiful area here," Andy McGlinn said.

McGlinn and his wife moved from Green Bay, Wisconsin to Wilmington six months ago. From negative temperatures and piles of snow, the McGlinns are happy to call the southeastern North Carolina coast their new home.

"We like to enjoy the beach and enjoy the natural areas," McGlinn said. "Having them maintained and keeping them viable is important to us."

The McGlinns and others attended a workshop held at the North Carolina Coastal Federation's Wrightsville Beach office to learn how to preserve local waterways.

"Everyone lives in a watershed wherever you are on the planet," noted Sabrina Woofter with NC State's Cooperative Extension.

"Storm water runoff is the greatest pollutant of our coastal, creeks, rivers, and sounds," added North Carolina Coastal Federation's Deputy Director Lauren Kolodij.

"We learned that there are a lot of solutions," McGlinn said.

Woofter discussed solutions such as rain gardens can be simple do-it-yourself projects for people who want to do their part and help the environment.

In a magazine called, ‘Smart Yards,' the North Carolina Coastal Federation explains that rain gardens can reduce stormwater runoff, reduce pollutants, reduce flooding, and enhance curb appeal of your yard.

If you're interested in creating your own rain garden, Woofter says you need to first locate an area that will capture and absorb runoff depending on how water flows across your land.

You then will have to design your rain garden, build a shallow depression in the ground, and plant native vegetation in the garden depending on how much water it will hold.

Woofter says after the rain garden is installed you need to care for the area by watering it periodically until it's fully established, plus mulch and weed annually.

"They can fit right into your landscape,"  Woofter commented. "It doesn't have to be just a random hole in your yard."

Other options include rain barrels to collect water. You can also add a downspout disconnector to your gutter, which you can find at your local home improvement store. The disconnectors cost about $8.

Their purpose is to reroute the rain water from going directly into the storm drain. In the Coastal Federation's instance that rain water ends up in the rain garden.

You can even install pervious surfaces. This is a new way to allow walkways or other spots to directly absorb and filter water.

"It doesn't have sand in the mixture, so that leaves little holes and the water soaks right through it," Kolodij explained. "You're doing your part to infiltrate that water right on your property and you're helping be a solution to the storm water problem that we have."

McGlinn said he and his wife hope to install a rain barrel and gravel to help with a soggy spot in their yard.

"I can see us doing these," McGlinn added. "They're very practical solutions."

For detailed instructions on how to create your rain garden or implement other solutions on your property, you can visit the North Carolina Coastal Federation website.

On that site, you can also download the complete ‘Smart Yards' magazine.

Kolodij said they're also more than happy to come out to individual properties to help with any stormwater solutions.

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