How To Combat Climate Change And Save Money On Your Water Bills
London has a drainage problem thanks to climate change bringing heavy storms. Rain gardens can lessen the impact and make a positive contribution.
South-west London is tackling the problem of climate change with its ‘New Rain Garden Project’. Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the London Wildlife Trust is committed to a year-long initiative which aims to create rain gardens along the capital’s River Wandle. These rain gardens absorb excess rain water and put it to good use by hydrating the vegetation that has been planted there.
Why Do We Need Rain Gardens?
Unfortunately, as climate change causes problems with the general pattern of weather conditions, we are seeing heavier downpours, droughts and flooding. London’s drainage system was built in the Victorian era and wasn’t supposed to withstand the capacity of water which it now holds. When heavy storms occur, sometimes a whole month’s worth of rain falls within just a few hours. Emergency drain maintenance in London is required, when the system simply can’t cope with this excess and causes the water to back up into the streets.
Front Garden Problem
Another issue which is exacerbating this capacity problem, is that homeowners are choosing to pave over their front gardens. This may seem like an insignificant concern, as many Londoners don’t have very large gardens, but in actual fact, it has a dramatic impact. When grass or soft surfaces full of vegetation are replaced with hard and flat ground, there is nowhere for water to go when it rains. Consequently, the run-off flows into the streets and ends up in the drains. Joanna Ecclestone from London Wildlife Trust explains, “Everyone is paving over their front gardens. We are losing two and a half Hyde Parks every year just from people paving over their front gardens.”
A further issue with front-paved gardens is that they tend to soak up the heat during the day and then release it back into the atmosphere at night. This has the knock-on effect of creating a warmer environment which is thought to be partially responsible for an increase in cloud cover above the UK which then creates those heavy storms.
How Can Rain Gardens Help?
Rain gardens are a way of creating a natural drainage system which uses recycled rainwater. They are created from a shallow depression which absorbs rainwater and is soaked up by vegetation that is thriving there. In most scenarios, rain gardens will take on most of the water that is associated with flash flooding and heavy storms; however, in rare circumstances where the rain garden also fills up, the excess drainage will be routed towards the existing drains. Rain gardens can be created by homeowners and are also popular on roofs, which equally cause problems due to their large surface area and associated run-off water. Homeowners can even save on their water bills by installing proper storage tanks and efficient guttering which allows them to use recycled water better and spend less on utilities each month.
If you’d like to contribute towards helping combat climate change, as well as reducing the impact on London’s struggling drainage system, then consider planting your own rain garden. You don’t need to live alongside the River Wandle to get involved. But if you’re looking for some inspiration, then head down to Deen City Farm in Wimbledon to take a look at their brand new-rain garden feature.