How You can Bring Space to Grow Home

March 31, 2016

Too much rain can do serious damage in Chicago neighborhoods—flooding basements and pooling in neighborhood streets. One way Healthy Schools Campaign, with the help of our fantastic partners, helps address this concern is through special features in our Space to Grow schoolyards.

With capital funding and leadership from Chicago Public Schools (CPS), the Chicago Department of Water Management (CDWM), and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD), Space to Grow transforms Chicago’s outdated—and in many cases, crumbling—schoolyards into vibrant outdoor spaces that benefit students, community members and the environment.

Each Space to Grow schoolyard is getting a $1.5 million transformation, designed to include special gardens, permeable surfaces and other landscape features that absorb large amounts of water—which helps reduce neighborhood flooding.

Two-thirds of the funding for each Space to Grow schoolyard renovation comes from the region’s water management agencies, who are working hard to curb the flooding in the Chicago area, using a number of different approaches from building deep tunnels and reservoirs, to recreating natural processes through “green infrastructure” improvements. The latter is where Space to Grow comes in—each schoolyard can absorb and hold hundreds of thousands of gallons of rainwater during the heaviest of storms!

But did you know that you can help expand the impact of these schoolyards? By letting rainwater and snowmelt seep into the ground right where it falls rather than rushing straight to the sewers, you can help reduce flooding by easing the load on the city’s system. Two simple things homeowners can do are install native gardens and disconnect their downspouts from the sewers. This is as easy as trimming your downspout and inserting it into a rain barrel so the water is saved instead of added to Chicago’s overtaxed sewer system.  You can use this rainwater to water your garden.

As part of our ongoing support to schools and communities, Space to Grow partners host workshops to educate community members about how they can prevent flooding at their own homes by using schoolyard features such as rain barrels and native plants.

For detailed instructions about how to install a rain barrel, watch this video tutorial, produced by Space to Grow partners Openlands and MWRD.