Neighbors Work to

Reduce Runoff

Funding from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is restoring a native prairie and marsh ecosystem to Chicago’s Northerly Island in Lake Michigan to provide habitat to native fish and wildlife, and an outdoor recreation space in the city for people.


Development in the City of Parma has taken a toll on the nearby West Creek, a tributary to Lake Erie. About 35 percent of the area in the watershed is surface that does not absorb water. Rainwater runs off roofs, down driveways and into the drainage pipes. There’s little organic material in lawns to soak it up. Like many cities, the City of Parma has storm drains that empty into the nearby creek. The storm water carries excess nutrients and chemicals from lawn fertilizer, and oils and grease from pavement, all of which hurts water quality in the creek. And the intense volume of the storm water that follows heavy rains scours the banks of the creek, harming habitat and exacerbating erosion downstream. Solving the problem requires the participation of individual residents who live in the city.

Resource Challenges Addressed

  • Too many hard surfaces with nowhere for water to go
  • Excessive water runoff
  • Polluted runoff with nutrients and chemicals

Results and Accomplishments

In total, 28 homes are participating in the project, having installed either rain barrels, rain gardens, or both. Rain barrels reduce the intensity of storm water that enters the creek. The rain gardens also soak up storm water and help filter pollutants. As of 2013, 64 rain barrels have been installed along with 11 rain gardens on individual properties and 25 rain gardens have been planted adjacent to city streets. The program is expected to reduce runoff along these streets by 49 percent.


People admire a rain garden in Parma, Ohio.

People admire the rain gardens that have been installed along a street in Parma, Ohio. These rain gardens catch and slow water when it rains to decrease flooding in the area. Photo credit: Cleveland Metroparks.

A rain garden in Parma, Ohio.

A rain garden installed in Parma, Ohio will help filter pollutants from stormwater before it reaches Lake Erie. Photo credit: Cleveland Metroparks.

A rain barrel in Parma, Ohio helps reduce stormwater runoff.

Rain barrels store water that would otherwise run off rooftops and flow into city drains. The stored water can then be used to water lawns or gardens throughout the season. Photo credit: Cleveland Metroparks.