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Chamber members learn how to catch rain

A small group of Skaneateles Area Chamber of Commerce members met for a buffet lunch and to take in the sights at Baltimore Woods Nature Center in Marcellus.

The regular monthly meeting was held Thursday May 14 at BWNC, a fitting venue for the program that had been planned -- learning more about rain gardens and rain barrels.

Kelly Somerlot and Christine Moskell, both with Cornell Cooperative Extension, spend a lot of time in Skaneateles because of the lake and its role as a natural drinking water source.

But Skaneateles is also a growing mecca of rain gardens. Rain gardens are specifically designed to catch the water run off from roofs and down spouts, Somerlot said. Locally, and only a short distance from one another, the Syracuse Water Department's building on West Genesee Street and Creekside Books and Coffee on Fennell Street have both built rain gardens.

The garden at the water department is not only useful, but it's being used as a tool for the community to learn more about rain gardens. A large sign describing what the garden is for has been placed at the site.

According to Sommerlot, when it rains, two things can happen. Either water will land in green places or it will land in an impervious place where it cannot soak in, such as a streets. Run off, when not redirected and put to good use, can go into lakes and other bodies of water, taking all the contaminants the water picks up along the way, making the water less desirable.

Rain gardens not only help reduce the amount of contaminants going into the storm sewers, but also can decrease the risk of flash flooding.

"A rain garden looks very much like a regular garden," Somerlot said.

The bed is not raised, though. It is instead a bowl shape, or similar to a pie pan, that collects the water in the base and then slowly allows it to soak in.

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