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About RainSmart

RainSmart is a homeowner's incentive program that reimburses qualified Chattanooga residents for installing rain gardens & rain barrels that reduce the amount of stormwater on their property.

  • RainSmart Program's goals: Reduce stormwater runoff, encourage public envolvement & educate homeowners
  • What is stormwater? Stormwater, or stormwater runoff is excess rainwater that occurs when rain falls on impervious surfaces (such as your roof, a parking lot, etc.) and doesn't get absorbed into the ground. This excess water then runs off those surfaces, and ends up in our creeks and streams. Stormwater can overwhelm our local water bodies, and introduce pollutants it has picked up along the way such as trash, pesticides, herbicides, fertilizer, sediment, e. coli, etc.
  • RainSmart is an incentive program for Chattanooga homeowners that reimburses eligible projects like rain gardens & rain barrels, because they capture stormwater and keep it on the property*

 *Reimbursement is under discretion of the City's Water Quality Program. Projects must meet all requirements and documentation as provided by the RainSmart program to be eligible


Am I eligible?

Applicants will be prioritized based on site constraints on the property that allow or prevent a successful water quality project.

  • Must be a City of Chattanooga resident
  • Applicant must own the property
  • Project must demonstrate runoff reduction
  • Cannot currently work for the City of Chattanooga
  • Must be up to date on their water quality fee and property taxes
  • For our purposes, the rain garden or rain barrel will be collecting rain water from your roof via your gutter downspouts. This means you must have gutters and they must be connected to your rain garden or lead there through approved methods to be eligible for the RainSmart program


What is a rain garden?

A rain garden is a simple landscape feature for reducing stormwater runoff. It is a shallow depression filled with sandy soils, and planted with native plants suited to fluctuating water levels. Rain gardens help reduce stormwater runoff, & support the ecosystem by providing habitat & food for local species such as pollinators, birds, insects, & other organisms.


rain garden cross section diagram



  • Rain gardens support our local ecosystem by using native vegetation
  • Rain gardens can reduce the amount of stormwater that leaves your property
  • Rain gardens are NOT water gardens
  • They do NOT contain standing water year-round
  • Rain gardens capture water during a rain event and then dry out within 72 hours (preventing any mosquitos from breeding)
  • They are NOT meant to decrease or prevent erosion on your property
  • They are NOT meant to decrease or prevent flooding on your property


Is a rain garden right for your yard?

Here are a few things to consider when thinking about a rain garden for your yard. While rain gardens are a great way to conserve stormwater, & support our local pollinators and ecosystem, they are not suitable for all yards and cannot solve all stormwater related issues. Please read the following to get a better idea if a rain garden is the right option for you. Once you apply, a RainSmart representaive can help you better assess your yard if you are still unsure.


  • If the spot in your yard where you would like a rain garden does not infiltrate water well now, it will not infiltrate better as a rain garden
  • If the place where you would like to put a rain garden is on a steep slope, this can make it more difficult for a sucessful project
  • Does your home have gutters? For our purposes, the rain garden will be collecting rain water from your roof via your gutter downspouts. This means you must have gutters and they must be either connected to your rain garden, or lead there through approved methods to be eligible for the RainSmart program such as a pipe, swale etc.
  • If you are experiencing stormwater on your property originating from off site, it is likely that RainSmart won't be able to address those issues


What is a rain barrel?

A rain barrel is a container or cistern that is placed below your gutter downspout to capture stormwater. They are a great way to have free water. This water is not potable, but can be used for various things such as watering your lawn or garden, washing outside windows & other items, or simply slowing down the flow of water from your downspout to your yard. 

image2 rain barrel diagram

*Image: Eagle Creek Alliance


How do I get reimbursed for a rain garden?


How do I get reimbursed for a rain barrel?

If you already have a rain barrel installed at your home, or have purchased one that you can install, click the link below to see if you are eligible for reimbursement


I don't have a rain barrel, does the WQP offer them?

The Water Quality Program offers subsidized pricing on rain barrels for Chattanooga homeowners once a year through our annual Rain Barrel Distribution Day event. These barrels are already being sold at a subsidized price, so they are not eligible for further reimbursement.



Thinking of building your own rain garden?


Serve people with integrity and improve the infrastructure and environment through excellence.

Justin Holland, Administrator
1250 Market Street
Chattanooga TN 37402 (map)
(423) 643-6311  


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Photo by Phillip Stevens and Matt Lea