Tag Archives: water treatment

Rain Garden’s First Birthday

Fisherman's Wharf rain garden fall 2013 WS2
BEFORE
(photo by SVSeekins)
Fisherman's Wharf rain garden fall 2013 WS2
AFTER
(photo by SVSeekins)

Don’t you just love Before & After photos?  I do!   I lose appreciation when measuring small day-to-day changes.  Progress is so much more apparent when distanced by time. 

That’s why I’m excited to compare the changes of the Fisherman’s Wharf Park after its 1st birthday.

When I originally visited the newly renovated park, I was charmed by the landscape architecture.  A flat field had morphed into undulating hills & lovely ponds.  Pretty.

Fisherman's Wharf rain garden fall 2012 WS1
BEFORE
photo by SVSeekins
Fisherman's Wharf rain garden fall 2013 WS1
AFTER
photo by SVSeekins

Careful plant selections of natives & non-local species provide potential for a low maintenance park.

As any new transplants need regular watering until established, Victoria Parks department installed irrigation into the beds.

The plants, trees & shrubs prospered.  The water requirements will diminish as the beds mature.

The holding pond of the rain garden is coming into its own.

Fisherman's Wharf rain garden fall 2012 MS1
BEFORE
(photo by SVSeekins)
Fisherman's Wharf rain garden fall 2013 MS1
AFTER
(photo by SVSeekins)

For the past year, rain has been redirected from the neighboring parking lots & streets, and into the catchment pond.

Check out the height of the drain.  It shows how deep the pond will get before overflowing into the storm drain system.  Any standing water is filtered by the rain garden.  It returns to the natural water table, instead of being sent to out to sea.

These plants / filters sure don’t look any worse for wear, considering they clean up any of the runoff’s pollutants.  Isn’t science & nature groovy?

Fisherman's Wharf rain garden fall 2012 beach
BEFORE
(photo by SVSeekins)
Fisherman's Wharf rain garden fall 2013 beach
AFTER
(photo by SVSeekins)

I’m not convinced the sandy beach is really what was here before Fisherman’s Wharf took over the area, but it’s a nifty idea.  Can’t you imagine leaning your back against a big log & reading a good book?

It’s looking much more natural to me now.  Sunshine & warm sand will be calling to me this summer.  No doubt I’ll have to arrive early to get a spot.

-30-
© SVSeekins, 2014

Nature Improves Urban Life

In the downtown core of BC’s capital city, I’m glad there are some spots where pedestrians enjoy some separation from the vehicle traffic as they all go about their busy schedules.

the Atrium rain garden - separating pedestrians from vehicle traffic
photo by SVSeekins

But in this spot, on the north-east corner of Yates & Blanshard streets, it’s more than just a pretty boulevard.  Here nature is working hard as a public utility: a rain garden.

A rain garden is basically a ditch.

Most cities have been done with ditches for ages, favouring underground storm drain systems to pipe rainwater away quickly.  Although that sounds pretty civilized, it means:

  • water drains so fast, there’s no time for it to soak in and nourish boulevard trees & landscaping, much less refill the natural water table
  • street pollution washes into the storm system then dumps directly into streams or the ocean
  • in heavy rains, the storm drain system can’t handle the rush of runoff so  streets flood anyway
the Atrium rain gardens - parking & street drains into ditch
photo by SVSeekins

The rain garden acts as a bit of a pond containing the flow for a small rain event (about 2.5 cm rainfall).  That’s the amount that washes the oils & chemicals off the street.

The trees, plants, and soils in the ditch are not only nourished, but they also break down the pollutants before the water infiltrates more deeply into the earth beneath.

It sounds kinda crazy that plants can break down pollution, doesn’t it?  Science swears it’s true.

the Atrium rain gardens - ditch grate
photo by SVSeekins

In a heavier rainstorm, the runoff gathers in the rain garden, and the excess water flows more slowly away in that handy storm drain system.

It sounds like a win-win situation to me.

The rain irrigates the garden naturally.

Pollutants are treated by an effective process.

There’s less flooding now & the storm drain system won’t need expensive pipe enlargements to handle the increased rains we’re getting over the past few years.

the Atrium rain gardens - nature assisting urban life
photo by SVSeekins

I especially appreciate that the gardens provide some natural beauty to an otherwise glass, steel & concrete desert.

Now the curiosity rises in my mind: which trees & plants thrive in one of these ditches?  They’d need to be happy with both very wet feet in winter, and very dry in summer….   ideas?

-30-
© copyright 2012 SVSeekins

P.S.  Check here for more on rain gardens:

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