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Rain Garden project brings together Palmetto Summerville, Carolina Clear and Charleston County Parks at Whirlin' Waters
5/19/2014 11:23:12 AM


On April 25, the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission (CCPRC) brought together residents of Palmetto Summerville Behavioral Health facility and representatives from Clemson Extension's Carolina Clear to create a rain garden at Whirlin' Waters Adventure Waterpark at North Charleston Wannamaker County Park. With the idea of establishing a therapeutic learning experience for a group of young people who might not otherwise have had such an opportunity, the waterpark's rain garden will also serve as an educational tool on site about this important environmental stewardship initiative. 


This partnership engaged six young residents from Palmetto Summerville Behavioral Health, a residential facility for ages 7-21. The hands-on project was guided by representatives from Carolina Clear, including Natural Resources Agent Kim Counts. Part of Clemson Extension, Carolina Clear is a public service group that works amongst regional partnerships with communities, organizations and others to educate and involve the public in waterway protection and pollution prevention.


CCPRC's Stewardship Aide Sarah Giles and Accessible Recreation Program Aide Marina Forbus were integral in bringing the rain garden project to Whirlin' Waters Adventure Waterpark. "We are grateful for the generosity and dedication of Carolina Clear, and that the young people of Palmetto Summerville were able to share something so important with their community through their hard work," says Forbus. "It is amazing to see how community partnerships, recreation, and nature can inspire such personal growth and joy in all people."


While working hard to install the plants, the residents learned that because of its location in an area where rain water naturally collects, their garden will help to absorb storm water runoff and filter pollutants before they enter the groundwater. Rain gardens also contribute to biodiversity, which enriches our ecosystem and helps the native environment thrive. Planting native plants that are good at retaining water in such a location helps to create a flourishing garden that over time requires very little maintenance. In turn, this reduces water use, saves on maintenance costs, and eliminates the need for the use of fertilizers or other chemicals typically used to improve plant health. Plants placed into the garden at the waterpark included a variety of local species that thrive in nature like dwarf palmetto, beauty berries, sweetgrass, tiger eye, milkweed, and dune sunflower. To assist with the retention of water in the garden, sand was combined with existing dirt and local compost to create an ideal mixture for the native plants.


In addition to learning about the plants and having fun digging, the young participants were excited to know that hundreds of thousands of people might benefit from their work and learn something new. Located in a highly visible area within the waterpark, an informational sign will help to educate visitors about the benefits of the rain garden, a project created by six inspiring young individuals. Whirlin' Waters Adventure Waterpark receives approximately 200,000 guests each season and is currently open for the season.


For more information on Carolina Clear or Palmetto Summerville, visit or

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