Is there one sign of spring that can make many of us cringe? Heavy rain events that cause spring flooding and erosion can often dismiss our magical moments of apple blossoms and crocuses. Mix this year’s record breaking snowfall with warm temperatures and rain and the combination may spell flooding troubles with a capital T.
So what design principles are in place to alleviate these troubles? With any newly constructed projects, the end goal is clear - the precipitation that falls on a property remains on that property, residential or commercial. One design principle that is often implemented is the use of rain gardens. Although rain gardens, which are shallow vegetated detention areas designed to capture and percolate rainwater runoff from roofs and impervious surfaces aren’t anything new, there have been a number of adaptations to the look and performance. There is more to these mini detention ponds than meets the eye.
A tastefully designed rain garden can offer aesthetic and functional relief while others, less stylishly laid out may appear to be nothing more than an unmaintained drift of weeds. A properly designed and executed rain garden has the potential to substantially reduce runoff, erosion and contamination of surrounding waterways, often times outperforming formal structures. Unfortunately, in the U.S. we are years behind the Europeans on this topic with some serious catch up. With that said, here is an interesting five-year study from the U.S. Geological Survey's Wisconsin Water Science Center that sheds light on the use of prairie grass and its effectiveness with various types of soils, specifically clay soils that can be fairly impervious. http://www.sustainablecitynetwork.com/topic_channels/water/article_b65fe518-3de0-11e0-82aa-00127992bc8b.html?utm_source=SCN+InBox+e-Newsletter&utm_campaign=d157714b5a-Newsletter_2-23-11_Vendors&utm_medium=email
So while today’s information is a bit dry, the goal is to avoid an enormous wet mess. Our end result is to keep our waterways clean. As the West African proverb profoundly reminds us, “Filthy water cannot be washed.”
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