Anna ArnautovicAnnika BjorkBeth SolomonAlyssia UllensvangRain GardensINTRO What is a rain garden and how can it affect our watershed? A rain garden is used for multiple aspects to help aid our watershed; some examples being a decrease in pollution that feeds off to major river or creeks and streams, decreases the rate of flooding and it promotes habitat creation and water conservation by implementing it to a healthier alternative for our watershed. A rain garden is (by definition from Rain Garden Network) a shallow depression that is planted with deep-rooted native plants and grasses. Since, the American River is Rio Americano’s backyard we have created this proposal to help assist and promote clean water and to prevent flooding. These two features will help on a broader spectrum of a watershed that is beyond, just the American and Sacramento River, but will also help Rio Americano become more environmental. These gardens will help with just that, and encourage a healthier and a more beauteous lifestyle. OUR WATERSHED The American River Watershed is the local Sacramento watershed, and is about 1900 square miles in area.
A large part of the watershed, named the American River Parkway, is in the city of Sacramento. In fact, a portion of it is located behind Rio Americano High School. This convenient river stretches side to side and its main uses are (according to The American River Watershed) “…
supporting mining, hydroelectric generation, timber cultivation and forms of recreation.” The Sacramento River, which connects to the American River, is the second longest river in California with the length of 447 miles and is a key river in Northern California. Both of these two rivers reach other major bodies of water such as Sacramento- San Joaquin River Delta and San Francisco Bay and is spread across about nineteen California counties. ISSUE OR CONCERNIn our current times, global warming can, arguably be the most controversial issues that the world is facing. Specifically, California has been acquiring eccentric weather- from scorching heat to freezing cold- as a result of this the immense amount of water has been polluting and flooding the American and Sacramento River. Almost, forty percent of all rivers in America are too polluted, for the American River this pollution ties into flooding which creates a high risk of pollution in some specific areas.
The effects of this prolonged issue has caused hundreds of thousands of inhabitants to be forcefully displaced from their homes because of an issue that can be resolved if and when these rain gardens are implemented. These inhabitants are not only animals but are also plants who are receiving too much water which is at fault because of the flooding that is not being contained, and this continues to the decrease of population of these two major characteristics of our watershed. Due to the extravagant climate change many animals such as river otters and fish in the American River, because of uncared flooding. River otters eat a vary of foods from primarily fish to insects, birds, shellfish, crabs and much more. But, considering their fast decline the fishes population could potentially outweigh the river otters by a mass majority meaning that there would be much more of one thing than the other causing a disturbance in the equality of animals. Recent studies have reported that there are hazardous levels of Escherichia Coli, or E. Coli that can cause intestinal infection and can potentially be the source of diarrhea, abdominal pain and fever.
This very new discovery is due to pollution from old sewage pipes, that according to the Sacramento Sewer Agency there has been 4000, 000 gallons spilled of sewage and the other portion of pollution is from flooding. Rain gardens can potentially help this issue become less of what it is and ensure that the bodies of water around it are healthy and clean for the inhabitants in and around it. SOLUTION In response to this grand amount of issues in our watershed, we all have decided to take action and implement rain gardens into the daily day at Rio American High School, that has a huge effect on the American River which is right on the other side of the levee.
Installing (a) rain gardens will affect our school and watershed greatly, because not only does a rain garden provide an attractive landscape but also aids greatly in clean rainwater, habitat creation and to prevent flooding and water pollution. The convenience of a rain garden helps tremendously when it is raining and collecting rainwater for the rain garden is a cheaper alternative for watering plants. Since, water conservation is very big in California, because of our annually long and hot summer, rain gardens promote this type of water saving that is essential for the summers that are at a lack of water. Not only is a rain garden for plants but is also a home for animals and has a potential of creating habitats for (e.g) bees (something that the US lacks currently, local and migrating birds, and butterflies. These insects and birds help annihilate insect pests and mosquitoes that have a negative effect on any garden. Most importantly a rain garden can help in the vicinity of local flooding and pollution.
The main use of a rain garden is that it temporarily stores rainwater, runoff and it cleans the water, specifically of, hydrocarbons, oil, heavy metals, phosphorus, unhealthy fertilizers and other pollutants that would normally be found in sewers, rivers and waterways. How does a rain garden work? To its most full potential a rain garden could possibly reach the point where it is functioning fittingly. A rain garden is ordinarily placed somewhere near gutters and downspouts that function with the movement of water on a slanted hill, to where the water runs down to the garden. At the garden, the ideal soil is determined and a hole must be dug to approximately four to eight inches deep for deep roots of plants to encourage infiltration and to help absorb nutrients that assists the plants growth. A berm is what holds the saved water during a heavy rainfall and it is located in the rain garden in the soil. Within the rain garden will be native plants of California, typically ones that do not require a vast amount of water. Some examples may be: milfoil, a variation of cacti, orange daylily, blue spire, hyericum, nepeta, bloody geranium, red valerian, plumbago and many more that can be used.
At the very bottom of the garden will be rain garden soil mix, above that layer is a mulch layer and above that is the “ponding depth” which is used for the overflow of water, and finally even above that is the plants that fit the soil conditions. An example of a more advanced rain garden might be, that at the bottom of the rain garden is a perforated pipe to outlet that collects clean storm water and transports it to a bigger body of water by pipes. The most crucial part about this rain garden is that it is located in a prime place where it will get a substantial amount of water and in a place full of sun. In order to keep and maintain a rain garden many steps are included to start and continue one.
This starts with “first season care” (this and all continuous information from Rain Garden Network) which is the very first year of a rain garden that needs weeding a watering along with an inch of water weekly until it is habitual for plants and animals. Next, is “weeding and mulching” which is when weeding is necessary until plants are grown enough and mulching is the process in which the prior mulch must be replaced with new mulch. Lastly, “seasonal clean-up” that is an annual ritual where it is very important to remove dead material and, again, replace the mulch. These steps are crucial to the start and the continuing of a rain garden.
Rain gardens are the more superior alternative for a natural environment. As said in the first paragraph, rain gardens help prevent flooding and promotes clean water, that because of these two features it will help on a broader spectrum of a watershed that is beyond, just the American and Sacramento River, but will also help Rio Americano become more environmental. In Sacramento we live relativity close to the bay which is a major watershed to California, this means that as a nearby residential area we have the task of keeping our watershed clean too. These rain gardens that we want to implement will help both these two ideas of something beyond our community. The American River runs 119 miles in length and feeds off to many other rivers that also feed off to other rivers, this is why preventing pollution and flooding can help the whole of California. Once, this project is set up this could mean that more rain gardens could be installed all over the school to help every area become more efficient and clean in our environment. Since, this project could potentially range in a great way this could mean hundreds of thousands of people being affected, especially the thousands of people who live on some kind of river.
This area could be the people living on the American River, the Sacramento River and any other additional river that it connects to. This has been discussed about thoroughly above. The two main uses of a rain garden is to prevent flooding and to clean water which prevents the ongoing issue of pollution in rivers and other bodies of water. A rain garden can catch much attention for its beauty and exotic plants that are planted just as any garden, but a rain garden has different characteristics both externally and internally whether that be the functions or the views. Rain gardens not only affect just a small area but also the neighborhood and an entire community in a natural way. Any ordinary garden has an affect on the environment that can be considered good but a rain garden is an even better alternative used