By: Adam Lehmann
The Cooper Creek Collaborative (a group of organizations working to restore the Cooper Creek) and Green Umbrella (a regional sustainability alliance for the Greater Cincinnati area) have teamed up to install a rain garden at Deer Park Jr/Sr High School. The rain garden will reduce the impact of the School’s footprint on Cooper Creek and serve as an educational tool to teach students about hydrology, ecology, and how human activities can impact our local environment. The rain garden was funded with a grant Green Umbrella received from the Duke Energy Foundation. It was installed by staff from OKI Regional Council of Governments, Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati, Mill Creek Alliance, and Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD).
The rain garden was designed by the SWCD’s Stream Specialist and Coordinator of the Cooper Creek Collaborative. The rain garden is located between the tennis courts and the back-parking lot of the school. It captures stormwater runoff coming from three tennis courts and allows the rainwater to slowly soak into the ground, rather than flowing straight into the storm sewer system which would quickly route the water to Cooper Creek, contributing to highly erosive flashy urban flows in the creek (to learn more about this problem visit www.CooperCreek.org). The native plants in the rain garden were carefully selected to maximize the proportion of the year when flowers and fruit are available to pollinators and other wildlife.
One of the SWCD’s educators will work with Deer Park science teachers to develop lesson plans that utilize the rain garden to make abstract concepts observable and relatable. The rain garden will serve as a reminder of these lessons as students continue to see it from day-to-day and year-to-year. Students can recreate aspects of the design process for applied lessons in hydrology and geometry. The native vegetation in the rain garden will create opportunities for lessons in ecology and how human alteration of the landscape impacts the wildlife who are able to survive in these landscapes (e.g. birds and insects). Additionally, Green Umbrella is working on creating a permanent educational sign to be installed beside the rain garden, so the education component can extend beyond the classroom and into the community.
5/26/2020 – final day of installation
6/4/2020 – Collecting rainwater – doing its job…