Top 10 Benefits of Rain Barrels
Did you know rain barrels have community as well as household benefits? Beyond contributing to your beautiful flowers and plants, here are the top 10 benefits of using a rain barrel as part of your eco-friendly gardening:
1. Rainwater is better for your plants and soil. Rainwater is highly oxygenated, free of the salts, inorganic ions, and fluoride compounds contained in tap water that accumulate in the soil over time and potentially harm plant roots. Use of rainwater in your garden dilutes this impact, making plants more drought-tolerant, healthy, and strong.
2. You’ll have your own water source in times of drought or watering restrictions. If you collect rainwater, you’ll be able to keep watering and nourishing your garden with your rain barrel reserves.
3. You’ll help to reduce runoff pollution. When it rains, runoff picks up soil, fertilizer, oil, pesticides and other contaminants and pushes them into other areas of the landscape. These pollutants can increase algae growth in lakes, alter the habitat for fish, and even make lakes and oceans dangerous for recreational activities. Your water collecting stops some of this damaging flow.
4. You’ll contribute to erosion prevention efforts. Rain runoff is also a particular issue in places where land erosion is a concern. Your rain catch will be especially helpful in these cases.
5. You’ll cut down on the amount of water that must undergo expensive and energy-intensive sewage treatments. Capturing rainwater and putting it straight to use in your garden eliminates the need for this processing cycle.
6. You’ll have a fresh, green way to wash your cars and pets. Rainwater doesn’t have the salt and other chemicals found in tap water.
7. Rainwater is the eco-friendly option to keep composts moist. Adding tap water to your compost doesn’t fit this sustainability practice; you’ll want to use rainwater instead.
8. You’ll help control moisture levels around the foundations of your home. Collecting rainwater before it hits ground levels will help to prevent flooding, damp, and mold.
9. You can reduce your water bill. Garden and lawn watering accounts for 40 percent of residential water use during the summer, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Thanks to a rain barrel’s water catch, the typical gardener can save 1,300 gallons of water during the growing season.
10. You’ll be an inspiring example of environmental stewardship. And we thank you for it!
See local ways to protect bees and what nearby communities are doing to keep sustainable bee farms.
Emerald Ash Borer
If you see signs of EAB you can contact your county Extension office. The Illinois Department of Agriculture also offers a toll-free hotline at (800) 641-3934 for extension-confirmed infestations. http://www.emeraldashborer.info/#sthash.Ie2lmv5L.dpbs
Monarch butterflies are now endangered species. Learn more on why and what you can do to help the monarchs.
- Green Online Games for kids: http://www.willcountygreen.com/education/games.aspx
- Lessons on Trash & Recycling: http://www.educationworld.com/a_lesson/lesson308b.shtml
- Green Zoning & Building Code Projects: http://www.willcountygreen.com/initiatives/green_building_and_zoning_code_project.aspx
- Will County Green Website: http://www.willcountygreen.com/
- County Energy Efficiency & Conservation Plan: http://www.willcountygreen.com/assets/1/AssetManager/Will%20County%20Energy%20Efficiency%20%20Conservation%20Plan%20-%20sent2014-10.pdf
Green Team Accomplishments & Initiatives
Current Internal Initiatives
The District makes a conscience effort to use recycled plastic for new amenities within its parks. This includes park benches, pavilion signs, and permanent picnic tables in the parks. Also at the Heritage Bluff Golf Course the signs, hazard stakes and marking stakes are recycled plastic components. Other recycled products are washroom partitions; and kick boards along the skate floor at Skateland.
Repurpose Plastic Grocery Bags
Plastic Grocery Bags drop bins are located at the Arrowhead Community Center and Heritage Crossing Field House. The bags are reused as dog waste bags in the dog waste bag dispensers built by Parks staff and an Eagle Scout. The bags can also be put in the dispensers located along trails in Central, Community, Deer Path & Henneberry Parks, Hansel Rd Greenway, and Heritage Crossing Field House.
Playground Surfacing Material
The engineered wood fiber used for playground surfacing comes from two sources, virgin material that is considered to be waste by the lumber industry and trees processed from trimming or removal operations.
Most of the plastic, steel, and aluminum used in our playgrounds is recycled material. Playground manufacturers have all made decisions to use recycled plastic, steel, and aluminum material when possible in their playground equipment.
Some of the fertilizer used in our system contains a product called nutri-pel. Nutri-pel is an organic fertilizer where nutrients are “stored” in complex organic molecules until soil microorganisms break them down and “release” the nutrients for plant use. The Park District is also now using mycorrhizal applications, which is a fungal inoculant that naturally increases the surface absorbing area of the roots and releases enzymes that dissolve soil nutrients allowing plants to take up necessary minerals.
No Mow Areas
We have eliminated or reduced mowing on a total of approximately 30 acres of turf at Heritage Bluffs Public Golf Club and Community and Central Parks.
Wood Chips and Grass Clippings
Wood chips and grass clippings are materials that have been recycled back into the environment for centuries and we forget about these as being recycled materials. Most of the grass clippings are not picked up; they are left to be returned to the soil. The branches and limbs from our trimming operations are chipped up by staff and used in the landscape beds around the District’s facilities.
Water Quality Management at Heritage Bluffs
A strategy is in place to monitor water quality in all our water bodies on the golf course. We irrigate/recycle water from the Des Plaines River. This water is put through our soil profile and naturally filtered prior to returning to the water table. The equipment wash station at the golf course collects debris washed off the mowers and other equipment used on the course, keeping it from leaking into the soil.
The policy is designed to improve air quality, reduce engine wear and operating costs, and save fuel.
Golf Course Certification by Audubon International as a Cooperative Sanctuary
Use of Electric Carts at the Golf Course
Reduces the use of fuel and is cleaner for the environment.
Water Conservation at Heritage Bluffs Public Golf Course
A comprehensive water conservation program is in place to demonstrate our commitment to judicious water use and environmental stewardship.
Integrated Pest Management at Heritage Bluffs Public Golf Course
The IPM Program is used to manage pest damage by the most economical means, and with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment. This includes managing turf areas with environmental sensitivity, educating workers and players about responsible plant management and safety.
Wildlife Habitat Management at Heritage Bluffs Public Golf Course
Management of non-play areas to provide habitat for wildlife on golf course.
Energy Efficiency in Facilities
- Energy efficient lighting was installed at Arrowhead Community Center, Park Maintenance Facility, Golf Maintenance Facility, and Heritage Crossing Field House.
- Lighting timers and sensors are also used to improve efficiencies
- LED lighting in fixtures at Tomahawk Aquatic Center and exit sign lighting throughout the District
- Motion sensor or spring loaded sink faucets
- Auto -flush urinals
- Low flow shower fixtures
- Setback timers are used in facilities to reduce energy use during times when rooms and facilities are not in use.
Reduction of waste production from facilities, golf and park operations
The following products are recycled in our operations:
- Waste oil
- Grass clippings left to return to the soil
- Branch and wood material turned into as wood chips for landscape beds
Other waste reduction practices
- Use of air hand dryers in washroom facilities
- Increase recycling efforts with placement of recycling receptacles at Arrowhead Community Center and Heritage Crossing Field House
- Re-usable staff drinking cups reduce cup use
- Recycling bins are used at all special events and facilities
- Removed Styrofoam products use in our facilities and replaced with biodegradable when costs allow
- Direct Deposit Program for employee payroll and bill payment.
- Electronic information program for Kids Connection Preschool, newsletters, and start up packet are predominantly sent via e-mail.
- Online Recreation Program Registration and tee time bookings at Heritage Bluffs
- Request for proposals for products and services are sent out via e-mail
- Double sided copier printing to reduce paper use and use of recycled paper products
- Increased electronic marketing including e-mail blasts, Facebook, and Website.
Internal Initiatives we want to do
- Create public access to Arroyo Trails
- “Green” staff trainings through use of Staff Portal
- Improve air quality and reduce fuel costs by looking into alternative fuels such as natural gas
- Expand Integrated Pest Management to parks operations
- Expand no mow areas and use native plantings to reduce mowing frequencies
- Investigate Solar and Wind energy opportunities
- Improve lighting efficiencies by expanding use of new lighting fixtures
- Improve HVAC efficiencies by heating and cooling buildings as needed per the schedule and research more energy efficient units when purchasing new
- Staff will utilize environmentally friendly products/services/methods/etc. whenever possible while maintaining fiscal responsibility to the agency
- Use re-usable shopping bags for purchase of supplies
External Initiatives we are currently doing
Wetland Prairie Public Access
The mowed trail allows the public to explore the Wetland Prairie west of Community Park. Interpretive signs along the trail tell the stories about the history and geology of the area, the benefits of wetlands and information on the plants and animals that inhabit the Prairie Wetland
Here is a link on the Park District website to the Conservation Foundation’s Rain Barrel program.
Coordinate the I & M Canal Clean Up Event – April
Garden Event – April
Adopt-A-Flower Bed Program
America Recycles Day Event in October/November
Provide a Green Tip of the Month on the website
Three Rivers Area Trail
The Park District along with the Channahon Township and the Village of Channahon has developed a series of pedestrian and bike trails throughout the Village to provide a healthy alternative to automobile use for resident and local commuters.
Member of the Lower DuPage River Watershed Coalition
The Lower DuPage River Watershed Coalition was created to monitor the water quality of the Lower DuPage River from Naperville to Channahon and to coordinate projects to improve the quality of the water and develop educational and outreach activities and materials.
Member DuPage River Trail Committee
The DuPage River Trail Committee was created to plan and develop the DuPage River Trail and promote connections to other area trails to provide an alternative to driving. Park District staff are active participants in the group.
Trees improve the aesthetics of the parks, golf course and facilities. Trees also convert carbon dioxide to oxygen, provide shade for patrons and also food and shelter for wildlife. Trees also provide wind breaks at our facilities lowering utility costs.
The Park District in conjunction with the Channahon School District has developed a community and youth gardening program. This program teaches students how to grow and sustain a food source while also giving them hands on experiences. Its purpose is to educate children from preschool to 8th grades but also is free to anyone in the community that would like to use the garden.
Environmental Policy Actions
The Channahon Park District encourages staff members to set a high standard of leadership with best management practices concerning the environment. This philosophy reflects the park districts Core Value: We Believe in Respectful Use of Open Space and Natural Resources. To guide staff in the fulfillment of this value, the Channahon Park District has established the following environmental policy goals.
This policy reflects the mission, vision and values of the Channahon Park District. It also provides the foundation for decision making and best practices in regards to: the use and purchases of environmentally safe products;use and protection of natural resources of air, water, soil, plants and wildlife; use of energy resources; reduction and handling of waste; open space planning and preservation; environmental education and interpretation.
The Channahon Park District has implemented the protective environmental practices listed below. This document will be used as a guide to adopted practices and, as new ones are implemented, they will be added to the document.
- Purchase products for use in facility and park operations which take into consideration the effects of product production, use, storage and disposal.
- Recycled Timbers
The Channahon Park District has been using recycled plastic timbers on its park benches and permanent picnic tables for 16 years. The use of plastic timbers has eliminated the need for yearly painting and the need to replace timbers due to rotting. It takes 510 milk jugs to make the plastic timbers on each park bench and 1,275 jugs for the plastic timbers on each picnic tableRecycled plastic timbers are also in use at Skateland Recreation Center as kick boards along the skate floor. Wood kickboards constantly had to be replaced due to splintering of the wood by skates. The plastic timbers do not splinter and most of the boards are still the original ones that were installed over 15 years ago
- Playground Surfacing Material
The wood used to make our playground surfacing is virgin material in that it has not been used for anything else (like pallets or fencing), but recycled/reused because the ends of lumber that are a waste to the lumber industry are turned into mulch and used as playground surfacing material.
More and more of the plastic, steel, and aluminum used in our playgrounds is recycled material. The recycled plastic material comes from household containers for dish and laundry detergent, juice, shampoo, and more. When the playground is removed, the plastic, steel and aluminum materials can be recycled again to make new playground equipment.
- Recycled Timbers
- Actively seek and implement ways to conserve and protect water and soil, enhance air quality, limit production and release of damaging pollutants and protect wildlife.
Some of the fertilizer used in the parks contains a product called nutri-pel. Nutra-pel is processed sewage sludge from waste treatment plants that replaces many of the chemicals used in your typical fertilizer. It is environmentally friendly as it does not contain chemicals that can leach into the water table or run off into the rivers and streams. It has no odor and is safe enough to use in vegetable gardens The Park District is also using mycorrhizal applications, which is a fungal inoculant that naturally increases the surface absorbing area of the roots and releases enzymes that dissolve soil nutrients allowing plants to take up necessary minerals.
- Wood Chips and Grass Clippings
Wood chips and grass clippings are materials that have been recycled back into the environment for generations and we forget about these as being recycled materials. The wood chips used in most of the Park District’s landscape beds come from trees and limbs cut down and chipped up by District staff or from tree trimming firms who give them to the District at no cost. Grass clippings breakdown in the soil and provide nutrients to the grass plants, reducing the amount of fertilizer needed to be applied.
- Member of the Lower DuPage River Watershed Coalition In 2009, the EPA had determined that the Water quality of the lower DuPage River was “impaired” The Lower DuPage River Watershed Coalition was created to monitor the water quality of the Lower DuPage River from Naperville to Channahon and to coordinate projects to improve the quality of the water and develop educational and outreach activities and materials.
- Water Quality Management at Heritage Bluffs Public Golf Course
Includes a strategy in place to monitor water quality in all our water bodies on the golf course. We irrigate/recycle water from the Des Plaines River. This water is put through our soil profile and filtered prior to returning to the water table.
- Water Conservation at Heritage Bluffs Public Golf Course
Includes a comprehensive water conservation program to demonstrate our commitment to judicious water use and environmental stewardship.
- Integrated Pest Management at Heritage Bluffs Public Golf Course
Includes a comprehensive IPM Program to ensure a healthy environment for people and wildlife. This includes managing turf areas with environmental sensitivity, educating workers and players about responsible plant management and safety.
- Actively seek and implement ways to conserve energy resources and investigate methods of applying alternative energy technologies.
- Energy Efficient Lighting in Facilities
Energy efficient lighting was installed at Arrowhead Community Center, Park Maintenance Facility, Golf Maintenance Facility, and Heritage Crossing Field House
- Energy Efficient Lighting in Facilities
- Reduce waste production, reuse and recycle materials from facility and park operations and handle hazardous and all other safe wastes according to lawful and safe procedures.
- Golf maintenance recycles the following products from the golf course:
- Grass clippings left to return to the soil
- Branch and wood material as wood chips back on to course
- Waste oil
- Re-usable Staff drinking cups
- District wide recycling of paper products, cans and bottles.
- Implement Direct Deposit Program for employee payroll and bill Payment. Reducing the need for paper, envelopes, ink and power.
- Implement electronic information program for Kids Connection Preschool. Newsletters, registration and start up packet predominantly sent via e-mail.
- Increased electronic marketing including electronic marque, e-mail blasts, Facebook, and Website.
- On-line Registration implemented Fall 2011.
- Golf maintenance recycles the following products from the golf course:
- Protect and restore indigenous natural communities such as grasslands, woodlands and wetlands, and promote the reclamation, acquisition, preservation and management of other open space areas, including river corridors, greenways and trails.
- Wildlife Habitat Management at Heritage Bluffs Public Golf Course Encompasses the management of non-play areas to provide habitat for wildlife on golf course.
- Provide education and interpretation opportunities for staff and the public which increase appreciation for the natural world and promote environmentally conscious lifestyles.
- Channahon Area Trail
The Park District along with the Channahon Township and the Village of Channahon has developed a series of pedestrian and bike trails throughout the Village. The three agencies cooperate in the maintenance of existing trails and planning for future trails.
- Golf Course Certification by Audubon International as a Cooperative Sanctuary.
- Implementation of Earth Day Program beginning April 2011
- Implementation of I&M Canal Trail Clean Up beginning 2014
- Implementation of America Recycles Day Event November 2011
- Re-usable cups and Recycled Pens given to staff to create awareness and encourage environmentally friendly activities.
- Channahon Area Trail
- Make decisions by evaluating the practicality of implementation of the above actions while maintaining fiscal responsibility to the agency.
Adopt A Flower Bed
The Channahon Park District’s flower beds grow better with some TLC! That’s why we are inviting area scouting programs, civic organizations, volunteer groups, and individuals to be a part of our Adopt-A-Flower-Bed program. Adopt-A-Flower-Bed is a volunteer activity where area volunteer groups “adopt” a flower bed in a Channahon Park District park. The adoptive group is responsible for planting and maintaining the bed during the spring, summer, and fall.
Click here for more information on the Adopt-A-Flower-Bed program.
Litter Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lS2ufa0iHaQ OR https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1WVkGswoQ0
Don’t be a litter bug FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/DontbeaLitterbug
Litter Campaign Article: http://www.slate.com/blogs/business_insider/2014/09/07/toronto_s_brilliant_anti_littering_ads.html
Locations to Recycle
- Channahon Park District
- Arrowhead Community Service: plastic grocery bags, cans, bottles, paper products, cell phones, and eye glasses
- Heritage Crossing Field House: plastic grocery bags, cans, bottles, and paper products
- Will County Permanent Collection Sites http://www.willcountygreen.com/greenguide/living_map.aspx
- Channahon Township Electric Recycling
- Paper Recycling at Channahon Municipal Center
- Grundy County Location Centers & Locations
Channahon Township Electric Recycling