Saturday, April 28, 2012

Rain Gardens Coming Soon!

GPES Students Prepare for Perk Tests

In June we will be building demonstration rain gardens at three of our elementary schools.  Rock Creek had the first rain garden in the district, constructed in 2010.  Seventy-five percent of pollution in Puget Sound is from storm water runoff.  Rain gardens are a natural way to clean storm water prior to its entry into our river systems and ultimately into the Sound.  

The rain gardens at the elementary schools will support student learning at grades 3-5 as students learn the importance of clean water and how to preserve and protect our environment.  Grant funding through the Friends of the Cedar River is helping to build our rain gardens.   Development of lessons that integrate the rain gardens into our curriculum is being funded by a federal grant in conjunction with the City of Maple Valley that must be used to help educate students and the community on reducing storm water pollution.  

In the picture, students from Glacier Park Elementary are performing a perk test.  A hole was dug in the area of the planned rain garden.  The hole was 16 inches deep and about a foot and a half wide.  Water was poured into the whole to the depth of 8 inches.  Students then watched as the water drained slowly into the ground.  If water drains slower than one half inch per hour, the rain garden site is not a good fit.  Students reported the 8 inches of water drained in 35 minutes.  The purpose of a rain garden is to allow storm runoff to drain naturally back into the soil, much like it would in a forest. 

Did you know that rain gardens can even help clean up pollution like car oil, antifreeze, grease, and lawn chemicals and prevent them from reaching our streams and rivers?

Thanks to Green Team Leader, Cathy Haws 
and the GPES Green Team students for this blog post!