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Citizens Respond to Stormwater in Their Yard

Bob and Linda Cody cleared thick growths of honeysuckle, buckthorn and other invasive plants from their new yard when they moved into the King School neighborhood in the Millers Creek watershed six years ago. However, they discovered an unusual problem at the bottom of the steeply sloping wooded site. Stormwater flows down three channels to pond in the bottom corner of their 3/4 acre lot. The pond forms where a storm pipe empties onto the property. Because the pipe sits two feet below grade, water never drains to the storm inlet on the neighboring property but remains on site as standing water.

The City's response to the Cody's request for them to correct the drainage was to remind them of the deed. It stated that changes following the original development would be the responsibility of the homeowners association.

Linda knew that her neighbors' plans for their life savings did not include fixing stormwater drainage.

She noticed that two green frogs lived at the pond. She decided that they could turn this problem into an opportunity by creating a water feature and a native habitat at the same time, supplied by stormwater.

The hillside, which drops 12 feet from the sidewalk, was bare once they removed all of the invasive plants, so they placed rocks to hold the soil until new plantings could become established and prevent the soil from being carried into the creek. (See Photo #1.) They moved limestone (found in the yard) to define the edge of the pond until they learned whether plants would grow in the water. (They do; see photo #2.) They placed stones in the drainage path made by storm flow to create a streambed, flowing when wet and attractive when dry, as seen in photo #3. The stones stabilize the soil and slow the flow of the stream that springs to life after a storm.

The yard is gorgeous and the pond supports water-loving plants like blue iris, golden Alexander, curly rush and water lily. The frogs come and go but the new plantings also bring dragonflies, damselflies, and butterflies. When it rains, the stream bed overflows to the width of the entire space seen in photo #3. The soil is sandy and the water quickly infiltrates and flows away.

What a wonderful arrangement for Millers Creek! Stormwater is being retained before rushing to the creek, thus helping shield the creek from extreme flows, and providing great aesthetic value as well.