Town employees and volunteer WSU Master Gardeners recently completed Phase One of the rejuvenation of the Spring Street rain garden located at the northeast corner of Spring and First Streets. Phase One involved removing 25 five-gallon buckets of silt, removing and cleaning river rock, pulling weeds and unhealthy plants, and cleaning out the catch basin. Phase Two will include replanting the garden this spring.
(L-R) Jon Gustafson, Alison Longley, Megan Jones, Sarena Schumacher, and Julia Turney. Not pictured, Caitlin Blethen Photos by Matt Pranger
“The volunteers were amazing,” said Town parks employee Sarena Schumacher who worked with fellow employee Jon Gustafson and Master Gardeners Caitlin Blethen, Megan Jones, Alison Longley, and Julia Turney, who traveled from Orcas to assist. “I would never have accomplished this project without their time, dedication, and hard labor.” She said their ultimate goal is not only to improve the filtration efficiency but also to create a beautiful space.
Sarena Schumacher Megan Jones and Sarena Schumacher
The experimental rain garden was installed in May 2011 as a natural, low-impact means of mitigating pollution from storm water runoff from approximately 10,800 square feet of streets and sidewalks before the water enters the harbor. Rain gardens are shallow, landscaped depressions where runoff is absorbed and pollution is filtered through a thick layer of soil, sequestered by plants, and broken down by bacteria and fungi. Effectiveness of the garden improves as the plants, bacteria, and fungi mature and thrive, but can decrease if the soil becomes saturated with pollutants.
The Town, County, and several local and mainland businesses contributed to the planning, engineering, and construction of the rain garden, which was funded with a grant from the state Department of Ecology and administered by the San Juan County Marine Resources Committee. Rain gardens have since been installed around the island including in the Home Trust’s Sunrise neighborhood and at Peace Island Medical Center.