Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Awarded 2015 EPA Region 4 Rain Catcher Award
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognized the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians with the regional 2015 EPA Rain Catcher Award in the Tribal Category for the Native Plant Facility project in western North Carolina. The award was given at a ceremony during the EPA Region 4/International Erosion Control Association Municipal Wet Weather Stormwater Conference, in Atlanta, Ga.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Native Plant Nursery Facility is designed to provide native plants for tribal projects associated with aquatic restoration, riparian enhancement, and wildlife habitat enhancement. The facility has provided approximately 75,000 plants for projects, and contains 120,000 container plants of 32 different species. The project employed two, 6,000 gallon cisterns to capture and reuse approximately 1,750 gallons of rainwater per inch of rainfall. The facility location received 52 inches of precipitation in the past year resulting in approximately 91,000 gallons of rainwater captured and ultimately applied to the plants. With this rain harvesting capability, the Cherokee have reduced surface water consumption from the on-site stream by more than 36 percent.
The EPA Region 4 Rain Catcher Award recognizes excellence in the implementation of stormwater green infrastructure practices. Green infrastructure uses natural systems and/or engineered systems designed to mimic natural processes to more effectively manage stormwater and reduce receiving water impacts. EPA and its partner organizations have promoted the use of green infrastructure for many years as part of a comprehensive approach to achieving healthier waters. Green infrastructure reduces the volume of stormwater discharges by managing rainwater close to where it falls and removes many of the pollutants present in runoff, making it an effective strategy for addressing wet weather pollution and improving water quality.