(831) 464-2950
Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Local "Green" Stormwater/Conservation Project Entered in Worldwide Contest!

Angela Stuart
Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County
(831) 464-2950 ex.22
(831) 475-3215 fax

The Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County (RCD) and the Soquel Creek Water District have designed an innovated water conservation and green stormwater demonstration project for the Soquel Creek Water District headquarters. The project has been entered into the Intelligent Use of Water Awards contest through RainBird, who will award $10,000 to the project that gets the most votes! This is a contest that allows the public to vote on community projects around the world until March 22, 2011 (World Water Day). Its online voting just like American Idol. If you’d like to support the project with your daily vote, please go to www.iuowawards.com and search for the project in Soquel. The money will help pay for the redesign of the landscaping around the Soquel Creek Water District’s headquarters to be an example of water-smart landscape design with emphasis on keeping the stormwater on site, harvesting rainwater and using plants and groupings that are drought tolerant. Although we may not win (global competition), we’ll see if others are as excited as we are by the number of votes we get.

The initial project was envisioned by Angie Stuart with the RCD and Ron Duncan with Soquel Creek Water District. The designs were created by landscape architects, Michael Arnone and Jennifer Colfer. The first phase of the project was just in installed in December by Prime Landscape with funds from a State Water Resource Control Board grant as part of a larger RCD program. The public is welcome to come see the work that has been done on the side of the building to the right of the entrance, which features a 2825 gallon rain harvesting tank, a rain garden, and an infiltration basin that diverts rain gutter into a permeable rock layered with underground crates that allow a good portion of the water to seep into the ground instead of running off down the street and into storm drains. The crates hold over 900 gallons of water to allow for more infiltration. The rain that has been collected in the rain harvesting tank since its installation will be saved to be used on the drought tolerant plantings in that strip of garden. The plants and tank were specifically chosen to create a "water neutral garden" meaning all of the irrigation water will come from the tank once the plants are established. The other phases of the projects yet to be installed include permeable pavers at the entrance, redirecting stormwater runoff from the parking lot to additional rain gardens instead of the storm drain, a recycled water fountain feature, an underground rain catchment system, a community meeting area, demonstration plant plots and educational signage throughout.

The goal is to provide a garden based educational facility/site to inspire the public to incorporate some of the project features displayed into their own landscape. After visiting the site one will have an understanding of how water moves across a site and then be able to view first hand various methods (e.g., rainwater catchment systems, rain gardens, permeable pavers for parking, water-wise plants, drip irrigation etc.) to help prevent stormwater runoff pollution and to enhance water conservation. A booklet entitled Slow it, Spread it, Sink it, a Home Owners Guide to Greening Stormwater Runoff was published by the RCD in June 2009 with funding through the State Water Resources Control Board and is available at no charge to County residents. The booklet helps guide homeowners on how to effectively keep stormwater on their property to reduce pollution running into storm drains and nearby creek using the methods demonstrated. The entire site will have signage and educational materials available so the public can tour it at their own pace. The Soquel Creek Water District would like to include school visits to the site in conjunction with the well field trips and welcome the Cabrillo College’s horticultural program and other nonprofit organizations to tour the garden and learn about stormwater management and water-smart gardening in living color.

The $10,000 from the public contest is needed to supplement a recent grant awarded to The California Association of Resource Conservation Districts for $99,733 from the 2010 California Proposition 84 Urban Greening Project Grant to help the RCD and the Water District complete the project.

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