By Susan Redden
CARTHAGE, Mo. —
A rain garden is up and growing in Kellogg Lake Park to give area residents an idea about how one might work on their property.
The demonstration rain garden, built just west of the lake in the park, was funded in part by a state grant aimed at improving water quality in the Spring River watershed.
Another grant-funded program that started several months ago has helped improve the operation of more than 20 septic tanks in the watershed, and more money is available to help landowners with septic tank maintenance, according to Tony Moehr, director of the Jasper County Health Department.
State funds were allocated for the watershed after the Missouri Department of Natural Resources designated segments of Spring River as impaired because of high levels of bacteria in the water. Health department officials and others are working on a watershed management plan aimed at reducing those problems, Moehr said.
The county got permission from Carthage to develop the rain garden in the city park so that visitors there could see the garden and how it works.
A rain garden is a garden of native shrubs, perennials and flowers planted in a small depression which is generally formed on a natural slope. The terrain is designed to temporarily hold and soak in rain water runoff that flows from roofs, driveways, patios or lawns. Rain gardens remove nutrients and contaminants from the runoff and will allow more water to soak into the ground.
According to estimates from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, pollutants carried by rainwater, such as dirt, fertilizer, oil and garbage entering storm drains untreated, account for 70 percent of all water pollution.
County officials in April announced that grant funds are available to pay half the costs for homeowners in the watershed to pump out their septic tanks or to repair or replace faulty systems.
So far, the program has helped pump 18 septic tanks and replaced four others. Moehr said several more applications have been filed.
“But we have more money available for that program and we really hope more people will apply for it,” he said. “Pumping your septic tank is an important part of maintenance and this will pay for half the costs and extend the life of their system.”
In other efforts to protect the watershed, Moehr said planners are working with Kansas State University to develop best management practices in agriculture. They also are looking at a program to identify storm drains and remind people that water flowing into storm drains ends up in a stream or river.
“We also talked to kids about water runoff during the Kids Fishing Day at Kellogg Park,” he added.
All the projects to be launched with grant funds will be voluntary, planners have said.
A map showing the watershed area where grant funding is available is on the Jasper County Health Department’s website, http://health.jaspercounty.org. Information is available by call 417-358-0481.