Thursday, September 29, 2011

City's first natural stormwater-filtering Rain Garden underway

Winston Heights/Mountview Community Rain Garden being built 
Construction of The City of Calgary’s first rain garden, a landscape feature that will help treat stormwater before it returns to creeks and rivers, is well underway.

Most water that washes into Calgary storm drains goes straight into the river – untreated. With this in mind, there are several projects that The City has implemented to improve the treatment of stormwater before it is returned to local water bodies like Nose Creek and the Bow River.

In new communities, The City requires that developers include stormwater treatment in their planning and design. In existing communities, The City retrofits the area with stormwater treatment technologies like wet ponds and rain gardens.

Currently, large ponds or wetlands are the most common ways to treat stormwater in retrofit communities, with 11 of these projects currently being constructed throughout the city. However, many existing communities do not have sufficient land for these large scale technologies. In these communities the installation of rain gardens is a great alternative.  Winston Heights/Mountview is one community where rain gardens are the most viable stormwater management technology.

The City of Calgary has identified two demonstration rain garden sites in the community where rain gardens are currently being constructed - both locations are public City of Calgary land:
The construction phase of the Winston Heights/Mountview project began in the week of August 15 and will be completed by November.

Public engagement:

  • The City hosted a series of public information sessions in March 2011 where they presented a series of rain garden designs to the residents of Winston Height/Mountview
  • Over 30 residents attended the information sessions to learn about stormwater and how rain gardens work, meet with members of the project team, and provide their feedback
  • Following the March information sessions The City of Calgary project team compiled all feedback received, reviewed comments and requests - almost all of which have been incorporated into the final planning stages of the project
  • It has been a collaborative planning process between The City and the community of Winston Heights/Mountview, which will result in two new rain gardens being constructed on City land in Summer/Fall 2011: Community Centre and Marlowe Place N.E.
About Rain Gardens:
  • Rain gardens are landscaped features designed with an aesthetic appeal and engineered to help treat stormwater before it returns to our creeks and rivers
  • They collect runoff and slowly filter the water prior to it re-entering the stormwater system
  • Additionally, the plant and landscape features in a rain garden further contribute by helping absorb stormwater, returning it to the atmosphere through natural processes
  • One specific benefit of rain gardens is that the above ground landscape can be designed to complement the surrounding area; landscaping can accommodate a number of different styles, with various types of plants and rock features, to ensure it is well-suited to the local environment
  • Construction of rain gardens in existing communities supports The City’s Stormwater Management strategy, helping to protect the health of our creeks and rivers; rain gardens help reduce the rates and volumes of runoff, reducing the amount of pollutants that enter our watershed. 

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