Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Environmental Value of Rain Gardens

Bio-restoration is a newer environmental concept for managing storm water. Stormwater gardens are of environmental value because they have the capacity to reduce combined sewer overflows (CSOs) into local rivers and streams. In Springfield, OH this includes Buck Creek and other areas like it. It is proven stormwater gardens utilize landscape areas because they are designed to hold rain water that has “run off” the surrounding landscape of lawns, roads, and rooftops.  

How it works? Stormwater is held in a basin a while and slowly released into a nearby body of water. In this way, stormwater detention basins reduce how fast runoff enters our natural waterways. This protects areas downstream from flooding and erosion.

In addition, stormwater gardens are proven to have environmental value because they eliminate sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) in a typical year; eliminate sewage backups into basements caused by MSD's public sewer system; and reduce sewage debris and sewage odors in local waterways. Gardens also decrease human exposure to pathogens and pollutants, such as E. Coli bacteria. The primary advantages over the standard garden/ basin approach is being able to maintain the pre-development site hydrology and remove pollutants from the storm water prior to discharging from the site.

From an environmental standpoint rain gardens help keep water clean by filtering stormwater runoff before it enters local waterways. In turn this helps alleviate problems associated with flooding and drainage. Rain gardens can also enhance the beauty of individuals’ yards, vacant lots, abandoned homes and communities. At the same time gardens will be providing habitat and food for wildlife including birds and butterflies while recharging the ground water supply.
A stormwater garden retrofitted
into an established residential area

The Critical Zone:

Geosphere- rain gardens need a high quality of soil in order to form proper stormwater basins. Otherwise poor soil texture will negatively impact the environment because compact soil doesn't allow rain water in, which is a negative quality trait, if storm water gardens require soil to be held and slowly released.

Biosphere- it is important for rain gardens to have chosen native plants for the garden to look beautiful and chose plants that bloom at different times to create a long flowering season. In the biosphere critical zone often times long root structures are not satisfactory because they break up soil pathways for water and soil pass through.
Hydrosphere- plays an important role in determining the quality of water; water allows for environmentalists to find out how compact a type of soil is which is critical for the groundbreaking of rain gardens.  Infiltration tests are then performed this is done by draining 3 different water pits and collecting how much storm water scales up at the rain garden digging location determines how fit the landscape is for beautification.


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