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Seminars show residents how to build rain gardens

Twelve to 15 workshops take place annually to teach homeowners how to install rain gardens on their property.

Workshops accommodate about 20 people, and they’re almost always filled, Anne Marie Smrchek, a professional engineer and stormwater water manager with City Utilities said.

“It really allows us to spend time with homeowners and hear issues specific to their property,” she said. “It’s fun to interact with residents and to watch what they come up with (for the rain gardens).”

A rain garden installed by a homeowner not only benefits the property but also the neighborhood and the city, said Frank Suarez, spokesman for the public works and utilities division of the city of Fort Wayne. The more stormwater that’s in the ground means less that runs into the city’s sewer system.

It’s also an opportunity to educate the public about stormwater, the environment and pollution caused by runoff water, Suarez said.

More than 1,000 residents have already attended workshops since the program was rolled out in 2009, some returning to showcase what they’ve installed or to ask more questions, Smrchek said.

The city has an entire website devoted to the program that includes resources, how-to guides and instructions for registering a rain garden. For more information go to