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Hyattsville’s Grassroots Expo will help residents prevent runoff

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Posted on: October 11, 2016

BY KIT SLACK — If this summer you have wished for less water in your basement, or for a clean local river where you could swim, the City of Hyattsville may have a solution for you.  

That’s right, one solution, if only a partial one. And no, the solution does not require you to convert your basement into a swimming pool.

Hyattsville will hold its Grassoots Expo on Saturday, September 17, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Hyattsville Municipal Building, spearheaded by Hyattsville’s Department of Public Works and supported by the Hyattsville Environment Committee. It will focus on “stormwater management and conservation landscapes,” according to Dawn Taft, park maintenance supervisor for the City of Hyattsville.  

“This will be the first time we have worked with another group to ‘officially’ become a partner in community outreach,” said Jim Groves, chair of the Hyattsville Environment Committee. “[O]ur basic duty is to make recommendations to [the] council and the city on environmental issues.”

At the expo, residents will be able to order 50-gallon rain barrels that are 100% recycled and made in the USA. The upfront cost of the rain barrels will be covered by a rebate from Prince George’s County, according to Julie Wolf, a member of the Hyattsville Environment Committee.  

Rain barrels can “control moisture levels around the foundations of your house,” according to information provided by the rebate program. When water goes into the barrels instead of your yard, it’s less likely to end up in your basement. Added bonus: entomologists seem to agree that dry basements are less friendly to spider crickets than moist ones.

Not only could getting rain barrels at the Grassroots Expo help dry out your basement, it could help clean up the Anacostia, our local river.

“Stormwater runoff is a big problem in Hyattsville,” according to Taft. “In the past few years the city has installed many rain gardens and conservation landscapes.  However, with help from residents, we can capture more water at the source and prevent erosion and contamination of our local waterways on a much larger scale.”

Stormwater runoff is plentiful and dirty in the area in part because so much of the land around the Anacostia is paved — “25% of the watershed,” according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Stormwater runoff causes erosion, which in turn damages sewage pipes, according to the Anacostia Watershed Society, and it washes sediment, trash, and even bacteria from animal feces into the river.

In addition to the rain barrel program, the city’s website for the event lists vendors and nonprofits who have other strategies that could help keep the river cleaner. The Hyattsville Horticultural Society is bringing in a keynote speaker to talk about gardening for ecological benefits. Yuck Old Paint, an eco-friendly paint can disposal service, will be there to collect paint for a small fee, keeping it out of storm drains. Doodie Calls will offer its services to help residents dispose of animal feces before they are washed into the river.  

Hyattsville Environment Committee Member Brielle Welzer hopes the Expo will become an annual event. “Each year could have a different focus; renewable energy, or indoor air quality and green products.”   
Can’t make it to the expo but want a rain barrel? Hyattsville has also made it possible for residents to order the barrels online at www.rainbarrelprogram.org/hyattsville. The deadline to order online is Oct. 23 at 11 p.m.

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