New Direction Makes a Difference

We continue to make improvements in how we handle water here at the nursery. Josh Quinlan, our Facilities and Water Management Coordinator, told us about one of the recent changes. Follow the water’s new path in the images below.

Past and current runoff directions
Water that fell on our impervious, gravel parking area in front of the shipping building used to flow quickly into an irrigation pond (orange arrows). During heavy rain events, the runoff often gouged out the gravel drive as well. A smarter, greener way to handle the water would be to slow it down and treat it before it reaches the pond. To do that, Josh and our team redirected the water in the direction of the blue arrows.

View toward pond and drive
To redirect runoff, the team raised the grade just in front of this barn and at the edge of the flat area above it. That allows the water to be redirected down the side and to the right of an existing structure on the other side of the slope.

Filter strip and grassed swales
The runoff now flows between the white shipping building and the wooden barn at the top left of the photo. It runs over a wide turf area (filter strip) and then down into a series of grassed swales.

Filter strips and grassed swales help slow and treat the water
Directing runoff to the grassy areas and swales slows flow, allowing more water to infiltrate the ground. It also filters the water more, removing sediment and reducing pollutants that might be present.

At the base of the series of grassed swales, any remaining water flows into a wetland buffer area and into the irrigation pond. The water going into the pond is lower in volume and cleaner than it was at the top of the parking area. In addition, the runoff has helped recharge our groundwater.

In the future, we’ll be planting these grassy areas more heavily to improve their ability to filter and slow runoff. This project shows how a small change can make a big difference in water quality. And more changes are in the works. We’ll keep you posted!

For more information on green infrastructure elements, start with the EPA’s green infrastructure page.

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