JOHNSON COUNTY, Kan. –To prevent stormwater run-off from affecting local waterways, Johnson County is making a push for homeowners to switch up their landscaping. 

“Storm water pollution is the number one impact that we have in the KC metro for water quality in our drinking water,” Water Quality Specialist Ian Fannin-Hughes said. “Stormwater when it falls across pavement, our lawns, it picks up pollutants, nutrients, fertilizers, pet waste and really degrades our water resources.” 

More than a dozen cities in Johnson County have partnered with the county for the Contain the Rain initiative. The program offers rebates on sustainable landscape projects like installing rain barrels, planting native species and creating rain gardens. 

Rachel Olson installed a rain garden in the backyard of her Roeland Park home last month and received a $900 rebate from the program. 

“It’s really fun to watch the plants grow. It’s super fun to watch when it does get a good rain and you can see the water coming in and starting to pool in the area,” Olson said.  

Fannin-Hughes said rain gardens act like natural filtration systems. When it rains instead of water flowing across Olson’s backyard and into the storm sewer system, it collects behind the berm of the garden wall and is soaked up by native plants. 

“Our goal is really to have these holistic, multi beneficial projects installed on properties and for people to really get first-hand knowledge what they could do to be more climate resilient,”Fannin-Hughes said.  

Homeowners may be eligible to receive a rebate of up to $1,000 to cover the cost of their project. You can find a full list of participating cities on the Contain the Rain website.

Johnson County Stormwater is partnering with the nonprofit Bridging the Gap to host a Contain the Rain workshop on Saturday, July 23 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Johnson County Community College campus. The workshop is free to attend, but guests are asked to register in advance.