When the plant workers complained about the difficulties in mowing the grass near the maintenance building at the Grand Rapids Wastewater Treatment Plant, they never thought a rain garden would provide the best solution to this problem. And the area was always wet and mushy, not to mention the mosquitoes, according to Sandy Buchner, plant Environmental Services Department chemist.
Natural Solutions to the Storm Water Problem
Following the initial garden’s functionality and popularity, the Wastewater Treatment Plant has planted more rain gardens to help handle more than 12 million annual gallons of rain water that would otherwise run directly to the Grand River.
Benefits for the Plant and the Community
These ‘industrial strength’ rain gardens were installed with the help of college students, interested citizens and plant volunteers and also serves as a nursery location for WMEAC to grow more native species for use in other rain gardens and schools throughout Grand Rapids. In addition to helping with stormwater management education for the community (the garden is a demonstration site) and the mission of the ESD to lead the community in environmental protection, the gardens have also saved the plant money that would have been spent on a system of pipes and pumps to collect the runoff. The plant workers really enjoy the beautiful peaceful spot created by the gardens to relax on their breaks.
The Grand Rapids Wastewater Treatment Plant has been recognized as an innovator in the field, as a recent article in Treatment Plant Operator Magazine demonstrates. With the help of WMEAC and community volunteers, several rain gardens have been planted on site over the years to solve the initial marshy, mosquito-ridden landscaping problem.
Benefits include decreased mosquito populations (storm water only sticks around for about 24 hours in a gain garden, whereas the insects need several days of standing water to breed) and a nursery of native plants for WMEAC’s use in creating other neighborhood rain gardens.
This is an effective way to take care of the annual 12 million gallons of excess rain water that would otherwise flow directly to the Grand River.