Training sessions for rain gardens

A free rain garden workshop with a classroom and hands-on training sessions is set for Friday and Saturday.

The workshop is sponsored by the county Department of Parks and Recreation and the West Maui Ridge to Reef Initiative.

The classroom session will be held at the Lahaina Civic Center on the first day from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. The workshop will include detailed information for landscapers, designers, maintenance care providers and anyone interested in learning about rain gardens.

The hands-on training will be held at Wahikuli Wayside Park, 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. the second day. The garden will include a variety of native plants, such as akulikuli, pohuehue, naio papa, ilima papa and dwarf naupaka. The plants are being donated by the county Department of Water Supply.

The public is invited to attend either or both sessions. Lunch will be provided on the second day.

A rain garden is a strategically located, low-lying area planted with native vegetation that intercepts runoff so pollutants can be captured and filtered. The technique is praised as a low-tech, affordable means to mimic the way nature processes water. Rain gardens are increasingly being used by homeowners and municipalities to reduce the impact of storm water on near-shore waters.

“Once there were coastal marshlands on Maui that intercepted runoff before it damaged our reefs,” said Mayor Alan Arakawa. “That is one of the reasons why we approved the purchase of 64 acres of undeveloped coastal wetlands in Paukukalo and want to create miles of coastal parkland in West Maui.”

The rain garden with educational signs will be located next to a walking path, said Jeff Anderson, parks district supervisor for West Maui.

“A lot of people are likely to see the garden . . . and feel good that we are doing a little extra to treat the shower runoff,” he said.

Tova Callender, West Maui watershed and coastal management coordinator, said that pollutants, such as hydrocarbons and metals from vehicles, nutrients, sediments and rubbish, accumulate between storm events in urban areas. Surfaces, such as roads, parking lots and roofs, generate runoff and carry pollutants to the storm drain system, which runs untreated to the ocean.

“It’s important that we integrate new ways to filter pollutants and increase water filtration to improve the health of coral reefs and the ocean, and rain gardens can help accomplish just that,” Callender said.

The West Maui Ridge to Reef Initiative addresses adverse impacts to coral reefs in West Maui by bringing multiple agencies, organizations and jurisdictions together.

Funding for the rain garden workshop is provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrations’ Coral Reef Conservation Program.

To register for the workshop or for more information, contact Callender at 214-4239 or by email at

For more information, go to