On September 23, I noticed some new construction in my neighborhood, at the corner of Keating Ter. and Caromar Dr. It turns out workers were installing a new storm sewer of the old-fashioned variety--underground pipes.
But this particular project has an interesting story. Queen of Peace Church, with extensive roofs and a huge parking lot, is just a block upstream. More than half of the runoff for the new storm sewer comes from church property.
When there's heavy rain, you can see a torrent running out of the church's parking lot and down the street. I heard that one or more neighbors downstream complained that their properties were threatened by the runoff. The new storm sewer project is clearly planned to intercept and deal with this runoff.
But, imagine if instead, rain gardens had been built to deal with this problem. A small corner of the Queen of Peace parking lot could have been remodeled to create a large rain garden. It would be a wonderful project for the children in the school there, providing an example of good stewardship of neighborhood water resources. In addition, several more small rain gardens would be required to handle the runoff from the streets downstream from Queen of Peace.
What did the new storm sewer cost? I'm guessing maybe $10,000. Imagine what could have been done to create rain gardens with some of that money! Rain gardens would cost less than the new storm sewer. Our lakes and streams would benefit as well.
So why weren't rain gardens part of the solution? It seems like changing from the old way of thinking about storm water is like steering the Titanic. It doesn't turn on a dime.
It's too late to save the money--but it's not too late to build the rain gardens. Benefits: Improved water quality in the lakes, improved streamflow, beautiful gardens, and a project for children at Queen of Peace school.