Category Archives: Rain Gardens

Frog Pond a Ribbeting Success May 16th, 2017

Posted in: Environmental Education Rain Gardens Water Storage/Retention Watershed Moments

Each year, eager frog lovers seek out the most ambitious amphibians worthy of competing at the St-Pierre Frog Follies National Frog Jumping Championship. This popular event involves safely catching and releasing frogs from the local area. Contest participants register their chosen contenders in the frog jumping tournament to champion the frog with the furthest hop!

 

The Frog Follies annual community festival in the Village of St-Pierre-Jolys has grown leaps and bounds since it was first inaugurated in 1970 by Her Royal Highness, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles. This unique festival celebrating francophone heritage inspired the development of a brand new naturalized amphibian habitat at Parc Carillon community park.

 

In 2016, the Seine-Rat River Conservation District (SRRCD) entered into a cost-share partnership with the Parc Carillon Committee to transform the existing one acre pond into a natural wetland ecosystem and frog spawning habitat. Soil removed from the pond excavation was used to create landscaped mounds as observation areas. They provide suitable frog habitat for protective cover during the day, as well as hibernation habitat during cold winter months.

 

Native plant species in the wetland environment are being planted to contribute to greater biodiversity in the local environment, as well to provide natural habitat to a variety of adult frog species. Native plants are naturally adapted to our climate and environmental conditions. This means that their root systems penetrate deep into the ground to improve water infiltration. The SRRCD planted a variety of native plant species in 2016 and will complete the naturalization of the pond in 2017.

 

The Parc Carillon Frog Pond also functions as an urban storm water detention that utilizes the natural ecological functions of wetlands to retain and slow high water flows, reduce runoff in urban and semi-urban areas, and purify water quality with native plant species. Naturalized urban water detentions can be incorporated into aesthetically pleasing urban design features with naturally wild or manicured appearances for sustainable environmental development and integrated watershed planning and management.

 

“This project will be a great addition to Parc Carillon – one that will particularly interest classrooms,” said Raymond Maynard, Parc Carillon Committee President. “Interpretive signs will not only help describe the project, they will also point to the similarities between the pond and St-Pierre-Jolys’ lagoon expansion, a first of its kind using ongoing phytoremediation [plant-based remediation] as part of the treatment process.”

 

The success of the Parc Carillon Frog Pond gives meaning to the value of building strong partnerships at the local level. The SRRCD and Village of St-Pierre-Jolys cost-shared the project for $10,000 each. The SRRCD took the lead on the project with design support provided by Native Plant Solutions.

 

The Parc Carillon Frog Pond is an innovative wetland ecosystem and viable model for urban storm water management. This unique amphibian habitat is intrinsic to the community and home to the next generation of frog jumping champions.

 

 

 

 

Urban Surface Water Management Solutions April 28th, 2017

Posted in: Rain Gardens Water Quality Testing Watershed Moments

Surging surface water runoff and ice-plugged culverts resulting in localized urban flooding frustrated local governments and residents over this year’s spring melt. Water flowing over the concrete landscape of the urban environment also inundated local drainage networks and contributed to rising water levels in response to this year’s unusual rapid melting and freezing temperatures. Heavy equipment urgently worked to clear ice from culverts and ditches as water back flooded over roads and streets of the impervious urban landscape.

The concrete sea of the urban landscape is a vast impermeable surface contributing to massive flows of water runoff. Water that is unable to soak into the ground will quickly flow over asphalt parking lots, roads, rooftops, driveways, sidewalks, and residential streets into the local drainage network and low-lying areas. The amount of impervious surface within a watershed determines how great the change in runoff will be. Surface water runoff will double in areas with 10-20% impervious surface cover and triple in areas with 30-50% impervious surface cover. The majority of all surface water will result in runoff in urban areas with 75-100% impervious surface cover. This means that the process of urbanization dramatically increases surface water runoff because water is prevented from soaking into the soil.

The increasing frequency and severity of short-duration, high precipitation events are also challenging the way we think about sustainable urban surface water management strategies. Today, we are seeing more severe precipitation events in the amount of rain that falls in a storm – even though annual precipitation events are staying the same. This means that multi-day storms are increasing in frequency and extreme precipitation events are becoming more severe and damaging.

The conventional approach to urban surface water management has been to direct runoff into the urban drainage network. While this approach has been successful at removing water from roads and streams, it has contributed to greater stream bank erosion and sediment transport. Urban streams have subsequently been channelized with concrete to push water through the system more efficiently, resulting in increased downstream flooding in the lowland portions of the watershed. The shift away from conventional urban surface water management practices to more innovative and sustainable approaches are essential for mitigating flood risk and building more resilient communities.

Permeable Paving

Permeable paving is a broad term used to describe a diverse range of pavement technologies that allow water to seep through the surface material into a base layer for on-site water infiltration and filtration. Porous paving allows water to move through the surface material while permeable paving directs water around impervious brick pavers and into aggregate material in the joints between pavers.

These innovative paving methods can be utilized for roads, paths, driveways, parking lots, sidewalks, and other surfaces that are subject to light vehicular traffic. They are becoming increasingly popular for reducing runoff in urban centres because they maintain the functionality of a stable, load-bearing surface. Permeable paving systems utilize a wide variety of technologies for increasing soil infiltration capacity, including pervious concrete; porous asphalt; plastic grids; permeable interlocking concrete pavers; and resin bound paving made of recycled materials, such as glass, plastic, and rubber. Permeable paving is an effective strategy for low impact development at the neighbourhood scale. This strategy may be incorporated with innovations at the property scale to further enhance the utility of sustainable surface water management initiatives in urban areas.

Rain Gardens and Bioswales

Rain gardens and bioswales are vegetated with native plant species and are designed to capture and store surface water runoff from impervious surfaces. A rain garden is a bowl-shaped perennial garden planted near drain spouts and sump pump outlets to capture runoff from roofs and low-lying areas. Bioswales are linear systems designed to manage greater volumes of runoff from parking lots or roadways. The size of a rain garden or bioswale is designed according to the impervious surface area where water will be directed into the system. The larger the impervious surface area – the bigger the size of rain garden or bioswale.

Rain garden and bioswale systems provide important environmental benefits at the property scale. They improve water quality as surface water filters into the ground. Nutrients in the water are then taken up by native plant species vegetated in the system. These naturalized surface water management systems also create habitat for birds, bees, butterflies, and other wildlife; they reduce downstream flooding; and beautify residential neighbourhoods.

The Seine-Rat River Conservation District can help you design and create your own rain garden project. We provide funding up to $500 for individual projects, or 50% up to $5,000 for projects located in public spaces. We would be pleased to present on our expanded urban rain garden program at your next community organization meeting.

Naturalized Storm Water Retentions

Naturalized urban storm water retentions are aesthetically pleasing urban design features, which utilize the ecological functions of wetlands to slow high water flows; reduce surface water runoff from urban and semi-urban areas; and mitigate the effects of downstream flooding. Naturalized wetlands improve water quality as they are vegetated with water loving native plant species. Native plant species contribute to a greater biodiversity in the local area, as well as provide natural habitat to a variety of waterfowl and amphibian species. The native plant species of naturalized systems also provide goose deterrence and management by limiting goose access from the water to grazing areas. Native plant root systems penetrate deep into the ground and clean the water as they absorb nutrients, degrade pesticides, retain sediments, and reduce pathogens as water infiltrates back into the soil for groundwater recharge.

Naturalized urban storm water retentions are a cost-effective alternative to conventional retentions because less soil is removed from a site; rock or soil does not need to be imported to a site; construction time is reduced; basin construction can occur during slower times of the year; maintenance of surrounding native grass uplands is a fraction of the cost of maintaining sod; and there is no maintenance required to remove or manage unwanted algal blooms or submersed vegetation. Conventional ponds require long-term algae management because they are susceptible to algal blooms as nutrients slowly build up in the system. Naturalized storm water retentions mitigate flooding risk in urban areas by utilizing the natural ecological functions of wetlands to reduce peak waters flows for sustainable surface water management in urban areas.

Changes in land use and climate show that conventional urban surface water management strategies must be adapted at the property, neighbourhood, and watershed scale in order to mitigate flooding risk resulting from population growth and development. Innovative next-generation technologies and methods, like permeable surfaces, rain gardens, and naturalized storm water retentions are intrinsic to the sustainability of urban surface water management strategies.

Visit our website at srrcd.ca for more information about sustainable urban surface water management solutions, including permeable paving, naturalized retentions, and rain gardens.

Project Spotlight: Vita Community Child Care Centre Rain Garden Project December 22nd, 2016

Posted in: Rain Gardens Watershed Moments

The Vita Community Child Care Centre had a vision for developing a natural playground. They wanted to develop a space for children to connect with nature through outdoor play. Engaging with nature is one of the best ways for children to master emerging social, emotional, and physical skills, like running, jumping, inventing games, and solving problems. The Vita Community Child Care Centre found a unique way of developing a natural playground by incorporating the environmental benefits of rain gardens.

A rain garden is a bowl-shaped perennial garden that captures surface water runoff. They are typically planted in urban and residential areas where water flows off roofs, streets, sidewalks, driveways, sump pump discharge areas, and parking lots. Surface water runoff that is unable to infiltrate into the soil may be directed to the street and subsequently overwhelm local drainage infrastructure. It can even pick up harmful substances on its way to the drain, including road salt, heavy metals, oils, and other contaminants. These contaminants can harm the quality of our drinking water and put the health of our aquatic ecosystems at risk when they end up in our rivers and lakes. Rain gardens provide a simple solution for mitigating local flooding issues by infiltrating surface water through the soil. The soil in a rain garden is porous because it is amended with organic materials that help speed infiltration and filter out pollutants. The perennial plants in the garden clean surface water by taking up nutrients as water is absorbed into the soil. Rain gardens also create habitat for birds, bees, butterflies, and other wildlife. They also beautify the neighbourhood and mitigate local water issues.

The natural playground area of the Vita Community Child Care Centre functions as both a rain garden and as a unique natural landscape for outdoor play. The rain garden is designed to capture and store water from the roof of the building as well as from the playground area. A small hill with a slide overlooks the rain garden and features a hand pump system, which circulates water for children’s playtime. This interactive design provides stimulating physical play while teaching children about the water cycle and importance of green spaces. The water used during children’s playtime is returned back into the rain garden at the end of the day to minimize waste and the need for plant watering. This innovative multi-use space utilizes the environmental benefits of rain gardens to inspire children’s imaginations through hands-on outdoor play.

Kim Chornopyski, Director of the Vita Community Child Care Centre, said, “The children and staff are very happy with our new natural playground. The children were able to watch the work being done to keep track of the progress being made. The hill is very popular and the trail around the yard is the perfect ‘track’ for chasing games. Our natural play hut and sand box is a nice area to sit and relax. It is also a central meeting place for the children when they are playing. The rock climbing wall and timber stump steps provide the children with opportunities to exercise their muscles. We just scratched the surface when it comes to all the opportunities it offers for children’s play.”

The Vita day care approached local representatives of the Seine-Rat River Conservation District (SRRCD) with the project idea in summer 2015. The SRRCD Board of Directors approved project funding for two urban rain gardens as well as project design and management support. Additional funding was secured by the Vita day care through a Province of Manitoba Community Places Program grant. The natural playground rain garden project was completed in summer 2016 with plans to complete a second rain garden for the purpose of capturing water from a secondary sump pump discharge area.  The Vita Community Child Care Centre urban rain garden project is an innovative watershed initiative implemented at the local level.

“We look forward to the upcoming spring and summer season when we will experience the environmental benefits of the rain garden first-hand with the children,” said Kim.

Heavy precipitation events and rapid snowmelt in the Southeast challenge the way we manage surface water in our area. Rain gardens are innovative design features that can improve the way we manage surface water in urban areas. The SRRCD can help you design and create your own rain garden project. We provide funding up to $500 for individual projects, or 50% up to $5,000 for projects located in public spaces. We would be pleased to present on our expanded urban rain garden program at your next community organization meeting. Give us a call in La Broquerie at (204) 424-5845, or in Vita at (204) 425-7877. You can also visit us online at www.srrcd.ca.

The Environmental Benefits of Rain Gardens April 8th, 2016

Posted in: Rain Gardens Water Storage/Retention Watershed Moments

This post was submitted by Alan Wiebe, Watershed Assistant, at the Seine-Rat River Conservation District

 Spring has sprung!

Spring arrives each year to warm our prairie hearts with the promise of longer days and pleasant weather. It can also be a worrisome time for some people when surface water runoff from melting snow and ice creates flooding problems in our area.

Surface water runoff refers to the overland flow of water from rain and melted snow. This runoff can be a problem in urban areas where water runs off roofs, streets, sidewalks, driveways, and parking lots. Water that is unable to infiltrate into the soil is directed towards the street, where it can overwhelm local drainage infrastructure. It can pick up harmful substances, such as road salt, heavy metals, oils, and other contaminants that end up in our rivers and lakes. These contaminants can harm the quality of our drinking water and the health of aquatic species. Heavy rain events and rapid snowmelt in the Southeast challenge the way we manage surface water in our area.

What is a rain garden?

A rain garden is a bowl-shaped perennial garden that captures surface water runoff from hard surfaces. They are planted near drain spouts and sump pump outlets to allow wateSusan Selby 2012r runoff to absorb into the ground. Rain gardens provide important environmental benefits by improving water quality. Surface water is filtered as it absorbs into the ground and the nutrients are taken up by native plant species in the garden. Rain gardens also create habitat for birds, bees, butterflies, and other wildlife; they reduce downstream flooding; and beautify your home and neighbourhood.

Clearspring Middle School rain garden project

In 2013, the Seine-Rat River Conservation District (SRRCD) worked with community groups in Steinbach to plant a rain garden at Clearspring Middle School. The SRRCD coordinated with local area Master Gardeners from the Steinbach & Area Garden Club to provide support to the staff and students at the school.

The Master GCMS Planting Day 034ardeners prepared the plants on site and supported the students, who planted the rain garden with colourful perennials. The students learned about the environmental benefits of rain gardens by getting their hands dirty. It was an event that Karen Loewen, Master Gardener and President of the Steinbach & Area Garden Club, fondly recalls as having inspired a greater depth of learning about horticulture.

The Steinbach & Area Garden Club (www.sagardenclub.com) and local area Master Gardeners are pleased to participate in community events and activities that promote horticulture. “It’s great that rain gardens are becoming more popular,” says Karen, “Homeowners are seeing the benefits they provide, like preventing water runoff from entering into our waterways. They also make beautiful gardens that are easy to take care of!”

SRRCD rain garden program

Rain gardens are innovative urban design features that can improve the way you manage surface water on your property or in public spaces. The SRRCD can help you design and create your own rain garden project. We provide funding up to $500 for individual projects, or 50% up to $5,000 for projects located in public spaces. Give us a call in La Broquerie at (204) 424-5845, or in Vita at (204) 425-7877. You can also visit us online at www.srrcd.ca.