MERRILLVILLE | The recently installed rain garden on 54th Court provides more than an aesthetic feature for residents there.
Matt Lake, executive director of Merrillville's Stormwater Utility, said the rain garden uses native plants to remove pollutants from stormwater runoff and was designed to allow stormwater to seep naturally into the ground.
Before the garden was planted in the middle of 54th Court, the road around it was changed to reduce drainage issues. The new configuration directs stormwater away from properties and into the rain garden, which Lake believes is the largest in the state.
Previous flooding issues on 54th Court damaged roads, sidewalks and driveways.
He said the improvements made there will increase property values for residents on 54th Court.
"It enhances that area and it enhances the town of Merrillville," Town Councilman Richard Hardaway said.
Lake said a proposed rule change by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency would require new developments to retain stormwater through infiltration — allowing areas for water to be absorbed into the ground rather than shunting it elsewhere via ditches.
Because that is what happens in rain gardens, he thinks the garden in Merrillville will serve as an example of what local contractors could use in future developments.
Lake has documented the town's rain garden project and plans to submit that information to the Great Lakes Green Streets Guidebook, which provides information about green infrastructure techniques.
Although the garden has been installed, Hardaway hopes Merrillville residents can help add two new benches there.
If Merrillville collects 800 pounds of plastic caps, the Lake County Solid Waste Management District will provide the benches, he said.
Hardaway is asking residents to bring their caps to Town Hall, 7820 Broadway. He said the plastic caps could come from numerous items, such as water bottles and aerosol cans.
Call the town administration office at (219) 769-5711 for information about the cap campaign.