Healthy Waterways …

You can help Earth & Spirit Center create healthy waterways.


Participate in projects — described below — that help us deal effectively with stormwater.

So one question is …

What’s the big deal about stormwater? Why is it a problem?

The problem is that far too much of our stormwater runs far too fast into the streams and rivers.

So our job is to slow it down by letting it seep into the ground. That way, it becomes groundwater and flows gently into our streams.

To understand why this matters, we must understand Louisville’s “combined sewer system.”

How does Louisville’s “combined sewer system” work?

Louisville has a “combined sewer system,” meaning sanitary waste travels through the same drains as stormwater (rain water).

When it’s not raining, the sanitary waste makes its way to treatment stations. But when it rains, the stormwater pushes sanitary waste on into our waterways.

If we could capture stormwater before it reaches the storm drains, then we could prevent sanitary waste from being dumped into our streams and rivers.

So … how can I help reduce stormwater?

You can help reduce Louisville’s stormwater by participating in the following projects at Earth & Spirit Center …

  • Rain gardens
  • Tree planting and tree stewardship
  • Riparian buffers
  • Invasive species removal

Here is an explanation of each …

What is a rain garden and how does it reduce stormwater?

A rain garden is any planting that is designed to capture runoff, typically from a downspout or a slope.

Rain gardens can be planted with beautiful native plants and bushes, such as swamp milkweed and rosemallow.

For more about rain gardens at Earth & Spirit Center see Rain Gardens.

How do TREES reduce the flow of stormwater into our streams and rivers?

A mature tree can hold as much as 100 gallons of rain water in its bark and leaves. That way the water gets released back into the atmosphere.

In addition, tree roots make the ground more absorbent. That way the water becomes ground water which flows slowly and gently into our waterways over time, instead of rushing into the storm drains.

In an Earth & Spirit Center internship you can help the community of Louisville

  1. plant more trees,
  2. save the trees we have and
  3. allow trees to plant themselves.

Thus you can help clean our waterways through tree stewardship.

What is a riparian buffer and how does it help clean water?

The term “riparian buffer” refers to the vegetation on either side of a stream.

A healthy “riparian buffer” is a stand of native plants and trees that serve to filter water, prevent erosion, and support a thriving ecosystem.

At Earth & Spirit Center, you can help us build a healthy riparian buffer along Beargrass Creek, which runs right through our property.

How can INVASIVE SPECIES REMOVAL help capture more stormwater?

Invasive species like bush honeysuckle prevent our native plants and trees from reproducing.

Bush honeysuckle makes the ground toxic, preventing tree seeds (like acorns) from germinating.

So when we successfully remove invasive species, we are allowing our native trees and plants to reproduce.

This is a very efficient, cost effective way to plant trees — let the trees plant themselves. 

You can participate in invasive species removal at Earth & Spirit Center.

To participate in our Environmental Leadership Program or attend an introductory meeting, email Hart at


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