Comments Wanted on New Construction Storm Water Permit
On Friday, March 25 the draft for the new Construction Storm Water (CSW) Permit was sent to EPA to start the 90 day review period, following which will be the formal public notice period. Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality is requesting initial comments and feedback before the permit goes out for public notice. Any responses are appreciated before Monday, May 16th.
The following is Part III of a three part series focusing on the City of Scottsbluff’s 319 grant projects. These projects are designed to reduce impervious cover in parking lots, filtering and infiltrating stormwater runoff. This article will go over project successes. For an overview of the projects, see Part I. For project challenges and lessons learned, see Part II.
In the last article, we went over the challenges of landscaping a hot, harsh urban environment. Now that we have gone over the difficulties of these projects, we are going to outline some of the practices we used that worked well. The following is a list of some of the techniques that were effective and that we will be using in the future:
Plant Selection- Thanks to the help of the Nebraska Forest Service and the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum, we were able to use a very carefully chosen plant list. This plant list included several tried and true plants for our area, such as catmint, yarrow, jupiter’s beard, butterfly milkweed, and asters, as well as some lesser-known selections, such as thelosperma and plumbago. We will be monitoring these landscapes to see which of these plants do well over time, helping to expand our palette of plants we know to be successful in this area.
Sedges- While this also refers to plant selection, the unique functionality of our sedges merits them their own bullet point. Because the projects are designed to capture stormwater, and because the soils were in such poor condition when we started our projects, we had several areas that were poorly drained. These were the areas where we planted sedges, some of them which were literally planted in standing water. These sedges have thrived, looking very attractive while serving the very important function of cleaning and filtering stormwater before it reaches the storm drain or is infiltrated into the ground. There are very few plants that do well when exposed to extended periods of standing water; we have had great success with using sedges in these difficult areas.
Beehive Storm Grate- The previous storm drain was a typical rectangle grate that was flush with the ground. We talked about some of the challenges of mulch in our previous article; one of the other challenges is that it can plug a storm drain. The storm drain we chose for the overflow of our retention area, shown below, is designed to keep from plugging when the water gets deeper and mulch starts floating. After experiencing a few strong thunderstorms, it appears that this design has been very effective at keeping the storm drain open to receive overflowing stormwater runoff.
Strategic Placement of Hardscape- We allowed several areas throughout the landscape for people to pass through as they were leaving their vehicles. This seems to have cut down on the amount of foot traffic we receive in the landscape itself. Additionally, in an area that was constantly being driven over, we strategically placed a boulder. This not only has aesthetic value, it has completely stopped vehicles from driving over this part of the landscape.
At this time, those are the most noticeable successes that we have seen. We are hoping that over time, using large landscape beds with adequate soil rooting volume for trees will help the trees to be more successful long-term; however, it will be several years before we know for sure if it is a success. We are also hoping to turn off the drip irrigation systems in the future. During their first summer, though, we will be leaving the irrigation on to help the plants establish their root systems. We may have to continue irrigating during extended dry periods. We will also be observing our plants over time to see how they do- watch for future articles outlining specific plant selections that have done well. All in all, perhaps the greatest success has been being able to remove over 9,500 square feet of concrete from our parking lots and replace it with a beautiful, functional landscape that will have great environmental benefits for years to come.
The following is Part II of a three part series focusing on the City of Scottsbluff’s 319 grant projects. These projects are designed to reduce impervious cover in parking lots, filtering and infiltrating stormwater runoff. This article will go over challenges and lessons learned from the projects. For an overview of the projects, see Part I.
In our last article, we went over the process of removing concrete and installing landscaping to create green areas throughout our downtown parking lots. There are several factors that, when combined, make it extremely difficult for a landscape to be successful in an urban environment. The following is a list of those challenges, along with a few of the lessons that we have learned so far. Over time, we will be continuing to observe and experiment with these landscapes to determine the best ways to make them successful. Continue reading Greening Up the Urban Environment- Part II
The following is Part I of a three part series focusing on the City of Scottsbluff’s 319 grant projects. These projects are designed to reduce impervious cover in parking lots, filtering and infiltrating stormwater runoff.
In 2014, the City of Scottsbluff was awarded $40,000 through the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality’s 319 grant program. The purpose of the grant was to allow the City to install demonstration projects that would promote better stormwater management throughout the City. Through this project, the City was able to remove over 9,600 square feet of concrete throughout several parking lots and replace it with landscaping. In addition, some of the remaining concrete in the parking lots were sloped so as to allow runoff from the concrete to be captured by the landscaped areas. Continue reading Greening Up The Urban Environment- Part I
Spring means green – literally and figuratively. When the weather warms and grass starts growing, building begins and business gets busy, your livelihood in full swing. One way to keep green in the business pocket it to keep the building site green too.
One of the best management practices (BMPs) for construction is to preserve exisiting vegetation or to stabilize a site by planting vegetation on the site. Keeping as much natural growth as possible is a cost effective sediment and erosion control solution on a construction site. Vegetation stabilizes ground in three main ways:
Vegetation slows stormwater runoff, slower velocity keeps more sediment on site with less shearing water force.
Vegetation spreads storm runoff across a wider area, preventing the concentrated flows that cause rills and gullies.
Vegetation helps stormwater soak in, reducing runoff and protecting your site from erosion.
Vegetation can be utilized in a variety of ways as a BMP.
First, preserve as much of the natural vegetation as possible. Let the grass remain around the borders of the site, against the street, under the stockpiles, and any other spots on the site that do not need to be disturbed.
Second, if there is bare ground that will be untouched more than 14 days, re-seed it with grass seed mix. The grasses germinate and sprout in 5-10 days when soil is moist and ground temperatures are about 50 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer.
Third, seed for final stabilization as soon as all soil disturbing activity is complete, instead of waiting until the end of the project. Using vegetation for final stabilization of a site not only provides effective stormwater management but also makes a site more natural and aesthetically pleasing.
The right plant, at the right time, in the right place
One key to effective vegetative BMPs is choosing the proper seed mix for area. In the Panhandle, a mix of drought tolerant annual and perennial grasses is preferred. Jim Neuwirth, owner of ABC Nursery, often mixes a variety perennial wheat grasses or thick spike weed with barley or oats. The annual vegetation, barely or oats, grow quickly and knit together to form a quick cover over the ground. The perennial wheat grasses develop more slowly under the the cover crop, establishing deep root systems that will sustain the plants and provide cover year after year.
The second key to successful vegetative stablization is timing. Neuwirth has seeded throughout the year by tailoring the grass mixes for the conditions at the time. For example, using barely when seeding in cooler seasons and oats in the warmer seasons. He’s planted dormant mixes in fall and early spring allowing for a quick cover to establish and the perennial grasses to germinate later.
More important than the seed mix, Neuwirth notes, is the moisture level in the soil. Water is crucial for germination and growth. Seeding with a polymer to hold moisture or the luck of a well -timed rains storm can make or break the success of a seeding that is sown and left to grow. Irrigation, on the other hand, dramatically increases the success rate of a vegetative cover to germinate, establish, and become self-sustaining. Neuwirth recommends irrigation to establish the cover, citing irrigation also reduces both risk and future costs for the contractor.
Using vegetative cover also provides a sense of place and beauty, an intangible benefit for a property. Seed mixes are typically designed with the site’s function and owner’s preferences in mind. The vegetation used can make the site more distinct, attractive, and environmentally sustainable. Neuwirth likes to add wildflowers to a seed mix if the site is highly visible. The sense of a native Panhandle prairie is more attractive with a splash of color and adds another dimension to the site.
Green grass, green building, and green in the pocket – all are advantages of using vegetative cover as a construction BMP.
For additional information on the City of Scottsbluff Stormwater Program
Leann Sato, Stormwater Program Specialist, City of Scottsbluff
Join us for The Garden Coffeebreak. Each month we’ll learn an aspect of gardening from our featured speaker then see the concepts at work in one or more of the downtown gardens.
Wear walking shoes and pre-order your lunch at least two days ahead so your food will be ready upon arrival. We’ll spend 20-25 minutes in the restaurant for the presentation then walk to the gardens for the remainder of the program. Eateries will be providing specials or special menus a week before the event for you to pre-order. Meals range from $5.00—$12.00 per meal.
Spring Cleanup with Anita Gall, Anita’s Greenscaping
Friday, April 10, Noon – 1:00 PM
Location: Cappuccino & Company, 1703 Broadway
Garden: 1st Avenue & 18th Street
Lunch:Lunch Menu Please call Cappuccino & Company 308-635-9997 to pre-order your lunch by Wednesday, April 8.
Tree Selection Galen Wittrock, South Platte NRD
Friday, May 8, Noon – 1:00 PM
Location: Grace, 1625 1st Avenue
Garden(s): Constitution Park, 1809 3rd Avenue, with stops at 1st Avenue & 17th Street , 1st Avenue & 18th Street .
Lunch: Please call Grace at 308-633-4722 to pre-order your lunch by Wednesday, May 6.
Downtown Garden Dedication & Wildflower Presentation, Justin Evertson and Bob Henrickson, Nebraska Statewide Arboretum
Friday, June 5, 10:00 AM – Noon
Location: Emporium deck, 1818 1st Avenue
Garden(s): All downtown gardens, please plan on walking/standing for an hour
Brunch: Light brunch foods will be provided by the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum and The Emporium.
Insects, Pollinators & Habitat with Jeff Bradshaw, UNL Extension, Entymologist
Friday, July 10, 11:00 AM – Noon
Location: Sam & Louie’s, 1522 Broadway
Garden: 18th Street & Avenue A
Lunch: Please call Sam & Louie’s at 308-633-2345 to pre-order your lunch by Wednesday, July 8.
The Stormwater Perspective with Leann Sato, City of Scottsbluff Stormwater Program Specialist
Friday, August 7, 11:00 AM – Noon
Location: Café de Paris, 15 16th Street
Garden(s): 18th Street & Avenue A , 18th Street & 1st Avenue
Lunch: Please call Café de Paris 308-633-2529 to pre-order lunch by Wednesday, August 4.
Sustainable Landscapes with Lucinda Mays, Chadron State College
Friday, September 11, 11:00 AM – Noon,
Location: Runza Conference Room, 1823 Broadway
Garden(s): Library Bioswale, 18th Street & Avenue A
Lunch: Please arrive a few minutes early to order lunch.
Fall Grass Showcase with Jim Schild, UNL Extension
Friday, October 2, 11:00 AM – Noon
Location: Runza Conference Room, 1823 Broadway
Garden(s): 1st Avenue & 18th Street, 18th Street & Avenue A
Lunch: Please arrive a few minutes early to order lunch.