Rain gardens are an increasingly popular low impact development tool and are a great way to address stormwater quality and quantity. Using plants to capture water and reduce run-off rates may seem an obvious solution, especially to the gardeners and farmers among us, but using them in a development scenario is a new twist on an old problem. Lowcountry civil engineers have long struggled to manage stormwater run off. Traditionally, detention ponds have been used to solve the problem but more and more civil engineers are incorporating plants into their stormwater management plans. Utilizing the unique ability of plants to absorb and filter pollutants, most notably in their capacity to reduce metals, phosphorous and nitrogen quantities in run-off, in the war against stormwater run-off has proved to be a boon to civil engineers.
For the past couple weeks we have been developing a conceptual design for the new entrance to the Bees Ferry Landfill that uses rain gardens to address stormwater. In addition, we hope to include other green development tools such as the use of low maintenance native plants, entrance signs composed primarily of recycled materials and an interpretive trail outlining the benefits of each. It may seem strange to decide to highlight the importance of green development at the entrance to a landfill, but in so doing, it serves as a reminder of the other earth friendly opportunities Charleston County offers in the same location such as recycling and composting services.
Even though most of us remember learning the water cycle in grade school, we often forget that there is a finite amount of water on earth. Water that is here today has always been here, in one form or another. Protecting, preserving, and conserving it in the best way we can and anywhere we have the opportunity is critically important, because it’s all we’ve got.