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Conservation group promotes benefits of rain gardens in Parksville area

MVIHES concerned about water runoff effects on fish
(Courtesy City of Parksville)

A local conservation group is trying to raise awareness about the benefits of rain gardens to the health of salmon and trout populations in the mid-Island region.

Two members of Mid Vancouver Island Habitat Enhancement Society (MVIHES) presented during Parksville city council’s June 6 regular meeting.

“The city has existing stormwater management plans and policies that do not address the impacts on the aquatic environments,” said Joanne McIlveen, MVIHES director. “We are here to tell you that rainwater is a resource, rather than a problem solved by implementing multiple drainage pipe projects. We are offering a solution in the form of rain gardens.”

READ MORE: Mid Vancouver Island Habitat Enhancement Society to conduct two projects and mail out surverys in Parksville

McIlveen explained that soil acts like a sponge for rainwater, and when it is replaced by concrete and other hard surfaces, the water ends up in fish habitat, such as creeks, rivers, estuaries and the beach.

This process affects water quality in places like Shelly Creek because the runoff includes litter, car washing cleaners, lawn fertilizer and herbicides that can cause algae bloom and suffocate fish and other aquatic life, according to McIlveen.

Water flowing into creeks during rain events causes erosion, while a dry spell can dry up the creek because there is no groundwater to recharge it.

Rain gardens help the situation because they filter the water and provide a safe overflow for excess water that cannot be absorbed quickly enough, McIlveen said.

Several councillors pointed out there are a number of rain gardens at city facilities such as the Parksville Community Centre on Jensen Avenue and the fire hall.

Councillors also mentioned rain gardens are already part of the city’s builder checklist for new developments and are something council can look at more closely in the future.

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