| Story by Cindy Cain |
As raindrops plummet to the ground in Will County, where they land determines how quickly the water will be absorbed into the ground.
If droplets fall onto asphalt, a roof or a road, they will form a puddle or a stream of runoff water. If rain lands on grass, it will moisten the ground, but the short roots of common turf grass won’t hold much liquid back.
But if the precipitation finds its way into a forest preserve or other natural area, the ground will welcome each droplet with open roots that go deep into the ground. The roots of native plants had to evolve to survive droughts, so they go deeper into the earth and hold more water when it does arrive. Turf grass has short roots, but a plant such as big blue stem sinks its roots as much as 8 feet underground.
“If water hits bare ground, it’s going to move fast,” said Ralph Schultz, the Forest Preserve’s chief operating officer. “If you have plants on the ground, it slows the water. And every time you can slow the water, you give it a greater chance of going into the ground.”