Monday, November 23, 2015

Lake Pleasant Green Infrastructure Demonstration Projects

This rain garden is a landscaped depression that captures and absorbs stormwater from the Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District’s driveway and roof. My coworkers and I completed the installation of green infrastructure demonstration projects at the Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District office in Lake Pleasant including a rain garden, a bioswale and two rain barrels.

Local homeowners and municipalities have the opportunity to see the benefits of stormwater pollution prevention practices. The projects are designed to protect and preserve water quality as essential aspects of public health, a vibrant local economy and a flourishing ecosystem.

This rain barrel harvests and stores water from the Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District’s roof and reuses it to maintain the pollinator garden. Stormwater runoff continues to be a statewide concern as pollution can occur when rainwater or snowmelt runs over water-resistant surfaces, collecting substances such as salt, pet waste, automotive fluids or fertilizer before flowing into storm drains that dump into waterbodies.

We installed green infrastructure projects not only to protect water quality and quantity, but to demonstrate to the public that rain gardens, bioswales and rain barrels can be efficiently and inexpensively installed to prevent stormwater pollution. The goal of these projects is to go beyond demonstration, and encourage communities to take action and install green infrastructure.

I caught up with Beth Gillis of the Lake Champlain – Lake George Regional Planning Board (LCLGRPB) for an interview. She explained that a homeowner can easily install a bioswale in a natural ditch on their property, or they can make one where water pools. If homeowners put plants in the bioswale, they will soak up water and pollutants.

This bioswale was created in an existing dirt drainage swale at the Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District and includes vegetation to soak up stormwater from the driveway.Municipalities can create bioswales in existing ditches along roadsides. Check dams can be installed to help slow down the water and settle some of the sediment. Plants are beneficial because they reduce water quantity for the municipality to deal with and improve water quality by soaking up nutrients.

Municipalities, organizations, schools, and individuals can take a self guided tour of the demonstration projects, or schedule a tour with the District. Signs describe the rain garden, rain barrel, and bioswale projects. QR codes on signs link visitors with smart phones to the District’s website for more detailed information. Guided tours may be scheduled for any sized group of children or adults.

People can watch our Green Infrastructure Demonstration Project video. The video highlights our installation process, has great interviews with stormwater professional Beth Gillis, and shows off the pollinator and vegetable gardens that were nurtured by water harvested in rain barrels.

A monarch butterfly visits the pollinator garden that is maintained with water harvested in a rain barrel. This project was made possible by funding provided by the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute through a grant from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The Hamilton County Highway Department provided equipment and staff support to assist with installation, the LCLGRPB assisted with design of the green infrastructure projects and participated in the video; the Finger Lakes – Lake Ontario Watershed Protection Alliance provided in kind support; and Fiddlehead Creek Farm and Native Plant Nursery offered a generous discount on native Adirondack plants.

To learn more about the green infrastructure demonstration projects, visit our website or call (518) 548-3991.

Photos, from above: the rain garden that captures run-off from Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District’s driveway and roof; one of the system’s rain barrels; a bioswale created in an existing dirt drainage swale includes vegetation to soak up stormwater from the driveway; a monarch butterfly visits the pollinator garden, maintained with water harvested in a rain barrel. Photos by Caitlin Stewart.

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Caitlin Stewart is Conservation Educator at the Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District (HCSWCD). One of HCSWCD’s largest programs is their Invasive Species program and Caitlin will be sharing her field experiences, as well as the efforts and results of forest surveys, and monitoring and management.

Caitlin has deep roots in Hamilton County as both her grandparents purchased property on Sacandaga Lake and Lake Pleasant in the 1960s. Her parents met and were married in Lake Pleasant, and she spent summers and vacations there. She’s been a full time resident since 2008 and is an avid hiker, skier, paddler, runner and biker.




2 Responses

  1. Boreas says:

    Caitlin,

    Great article and ideas. I enjoyed the video as well.