Partnership starts DIY rain garden project in U.K.

March 25, 2022
Hundreds of rain gardens to help protect the South Downs aquifer around Brighton, and to protect wildlife, are set to be created as part of a new initiative.

The Aquifer Partnership (TAP) is launching a major campaign to create as many rain gardens as possible across the United Kingdom’s Brighton, Hove, and Lewes areas by 2025.

The campaign, with the motto “Slow it down, soak it up”, is calling on communities, residents, schools, and businesses to help create simple, inexpensive rain gardens that deliver many benefits for the environment. Online and in-person training workshops are also being offered over the next three years to build local expertise in rain garden techniques.

The areas, either dug into a garden or using a planter, will use specially-selected grasses and plants to slow and purify water run-off from hard surfaces and allow it to soak into the ground naturally.

TAP was established in 2016 to develop projects and solutions to protect the groundwater of the chalk aquifer, which supplies drinking water to the population of Brighton, Hove, and Lewes. Climate change and extreme storm events, combined with more impermeable surfaces from development, mean that the aquifer is under increasing threat from pollution, including run-off from roads and vehicles, as well as from chemicals used on crops and other open spaces.

“Rain gardens are one part of the solution. They use plant power to slow down and cleanse water, which helps to replenish the aquifer beneath our feet naturally,” Susie Howells, partnership development manager for TAP, says. “Our target is to have as many rain gardens as possible in the Brighton, Hove and Lewes area by March 2025. We’re keen to build up a green network of rain gardens and inspire people of all ages to help raise awareness of the importance of groundwater and care for our precious aquifer.”

TAP is a collaboration between the South Downs National Park Authority, the Environment Agency, Southern Water and Brighton & Hove City Council to protect the aquifer. Further relationships are being created with councils, landowners, universities, community groups ,and businesses to deliver specific interventions as the project progresses.