Tuesday, September 20, 2011

How Not to Plan, Site, or Use Rain Gardens - Lessons Learned

A case study in how not to do Rain gardens: http://ballardraingardengue.wordpress.com/

Seattle removes rain gardens in Ballard http://www.wastormwatercenter.org/news?id=71

Just a year ago, Seattle was promoting its roadside rain garden project in Ballard. Now, the city is spending half a million dollars to dismantle huge sections of it
Some neighborhood residents say, despite good intentions, the whole thing has been a fiasco.
When you hear the phrase rain garden, you think of lovely, watery greenscapes that help save the planet by keeping dirty storm water out of Puget Sound.

Mark Early, who is with the group Sustainable Ballard, says that’s exactly how Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) sold the street side rain garden project. Early says he thought it all sounded great. But, he says, the reality was a different story. Listen to KPLU Paula Wissel's story.

Summary - My comments

1. Do not put rain gardens along streets that are narrow and congested - do not allow parking along the road in these areas.
2. Rain gardens will overflow - provide from by-passes for large stormevents.

3. Always try a pilot - small scale first.

4. Educate the community - there will be aesthetic issues - it is a rain garden a living breathing system - not a flower garden.

5. Kids get bored and make bad decisions.

6. They should make the homeowners put in their own rain gardens on their property - there is room.

7. System appeared to be significantly undersized and not sized for peak storms.

8. Before ripping these out - we should learn from the mistakes and problems.  These problems appear to include: poor siting, design issues, lifestyle issues and changes, education on value, lack of capacity,  use not putting up with some inconvenience (insects, odors), and overall siting.

Just my thoughts

Brian Oram, Professional Geologist

Source for Small Scale Stormwater Systems and Rain Gardens

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