by Susan O’Neill
SUGAR GROVEâ€”For two days last weekend, the St. Charles-based Aqua-scape, Inc. turned the Lakes of Bliss Woods Subdivision into an in-the-field classroom for its contractors. The independently-owned business owners who purchase their product from Aquascape received training in how to design and install an effective rainwater harvest system, and about 25 families received completed ecosystem ponds, rain gardens, rain barrels and other water exchange solutions by Saturday night.
â€œNice, nice,â€ resident Brad Huggins said as he and his wife Audrey watched a crew of contractors from California, Arizona and Illinois turn the front of their house into a gurgling water feature nestled in a bed of decorative rocks.
The Huggins’ rain water system installation was part of Aquascape’s 20th annual Pondemonium, a large-scale networking, training and education event for contractors across the country and Canada to learn the latest about the company’s products.
Aquascape, Inc., which creates and markets a wide range of water gardening products, including backyard ponds and waterfalls, began looking into the rainwater harvesting concept several years ago. Aquascape’s Chief Sustainability Officer Ed Beaulieu said that 75 percent of the calls the company’s technology department currently receives are about rainwater harvesting.
Although the fountain will provide Brad and Audrey a pretty and relaxing spot to spend a summer evening, it’s what is underneath the ground that makes it more than just a nice amenity.
The RainXchange system includes a 500-gallon underground water storage tank designed to collect rain water from the roof and a booster pump that turns an everyday garden hose into a power washer for the car or a tool to water the lawn and surrounding landscape.
In the past, when it rained, it would run off the Huggins’ roof and down the drainpipe, flow through the bushes and plants and mulch, across the sidewalk and down a storm sewer in the street.
â€œWe would always see all this water going to waste,â€ Brad said. â€œWe knew we needed to do something.â€
Then they received an e-mail from their neighbors Ed and his wife Ellen, who also works for Aquascape, Inc., inviting them to participate in the extreme green community makeover by purchasing a rainwater harvest system for their home.
Brad said it made sense to become environmentally conscious of the water they use, especially with the water shortages the village has experienced the past few years. Water had become so scarce that the village imposed restrictions on residents’ water use for the past two summers.
â€œThis is perfect,â€ Brad said. â€œThis is the answer to everything.â€
Beaulieu came to talk to the Sugar Grove Village Board a few months ago about their project, and told them he and Ellen wanted to use the community as a model for the company’s RainXchange solutions. Their idea is to create something that can be replicated in other communities.
The response was overwhelming, he said.
Brad said he was â€œpleased as punchâ€ about their system, and that it is even better than he expected.
â€œWe’re just so lucky to have Ed and Ellen here in our community,â€ he said.
Lakes of Bliss Woods ponds and other water features will be part of Aquascape’s 17th annual Parade of Ponds, held the weekend of July 25-26. The tour features a variety of water features at more than 65 tour locations in the western suburbs.
Proceeds from ticket purchases benefit the Aquascape Foundation, a not-for-profit 501 3C organization dedicated to creating sustainable solutions for the world-wide water crisis.
Photo: A certified Aquascape contractor tests the water fountain on a RainXchange system during Saturdayâ€™s Pondemonium. Photo by Susan Oâ€™Neill