Rain gardens are a beautiful and very functional addition to any yard, city greenspace, or walking path. They are composed of native plants which are adapted to the climate, in our case, the Southwest Saskatchewan hot dry summers and cold dry winters. Native plants are the best at holding together soils to prevent erosion and sedimentaion into creeks, wetlands, lakes, and rivers. They can also help filter water as it passes through of extra sediments and pollutants.
A rain garden is a man-made area in which water runoff from rainfall, flood, or other precipation events flows into and the flow is slowed, allowing the water to soak into the ground, filtering through the roots and soils of the garden. This helps mitigate flooding in addition to removing sediments and pollutants from the water before it reaches either the surface waterbody, or soaks into underground sources of water.
In addition to providing a crucial function, rain gardens also add an aesthetic appeal to any area, and even promote a variety of wildlife to be present. This can include insects as well, such as butterflies and bees. Birds, small mammals and even the odd reptile or amphibian may also use these areas as a place to rest, take shelter, or find something to eat!
The Northern Leopard Frog (Lithobates pipiens) is a Species at Risk that we have in the Swift Current Creek Watershed! Helping to provide clean and ideal habitat not only benefits this little frog, but also the entire ecosystem of the watershed!
SCCWS RAIN GARDEN PROJECT 2018
Starting in the fall of 2017, SCCWS began a series of water samples at various locations upstream of the City of Swift Current, within the city downstream of storm water outfalls, and near the downstream leaving the city. These sites would help determine how and if the water quality changes as the creek flows through the city, and help us find the ideal place to construct an engineered rain garden. The rain garden will provide an area for storm water to slow and filter through a series of soils, aggregates, and native plants, and improve the water quality before it enters the creek.
In the summer of 2018 water samples were taken at three locations along the Swift Current Creek: One upstream of the city's water treatment plant, one in the center of the city near Riverdene Park downstream of a storm water outfall, and the third downstream of another storm water outfall and also near the end of the city, but upstream of the Waste Water Treatment Plant.
The upstream and downstream sites were also used in the Swift Current Creek Monitoring Projects.
Monitoring site named "C50" was the upstream water sampling site for the rain garden project
The center of the rain garden sampling was taken near Riverdene Park and downstream of a storm water outfall.
The Monitoring site named "H60" was the most downstream site of the city and also downstream of another storm water outfall. This site was also upstream of the City's Waste Water Treatment Plant.
A site was chosen to start constructing the rain garden based on storm water outfalls and visibility to the public. An ideal spot was located near busy roads, businesses and resturants, and also the potential for visibility by the public on the prosposed extended Chinook pathway. The site was engineered and prepared for SCCWS by WSP and Duall Excavating. SCCWS thanks WSP and Duall for their assistance and participation in this project!
In September of 2018 on the Stark & Marsh Go Green Friday, volunteers from various businesses and organizations in Swift Current helped to make the rain garden come to life. Native forbes, shrubs, and trees were brought in and planted on the prepared site. The vegetation will provide stability, minimize erosion, help slow storm water discharge, and filter contaminants from the water before it sinks into the ground and ulimately into the Swift Current Creek.
WHAT COMES NEXT?
SCCWS will continue to monitor water quality and maintain the rain garden. You may see us out in the creek taking water samples in the summers to come!
Remember you can be good stewards of the Swift Creek by not littering or dumping chemical and yard wastes into storm drains, taking your car to a car wash area and not using your driveway, not over watering or over fertilizing your lawn, and you can even create your very own rain garden in your backyard! Not only does being a good steward help the city look great, it also helps the overall health of our watershed which benefits everyone!
SCCWS would like to thank everyone involved and those who volunteered to help with the rain garden project. SCCWS would also like to thank EcoAction for funding the rain garden.