New rain garden to reduce stormwater runoff at Chicago elementary school

Water professionals across the country met to build a rain garden at an elementary school in Chicago, IL, to help reduce stormwater runoff.

Rain Gardens

Oct. 14, 2013 -- Water professionals from across the country came together on Friday, Oct. 4, to build a rain garden at Haines Elementary School in Chicago, Ill., to help reduce stormwater runoff.

In rainy weather, the playground quickly flooded due to the city's lack of elevation along with the fact that the asphalt's impervious surface prevented the stormwater from draining properly. To address this, the project consisted of replacing a 1,000 sq. ft. section of pavement with native plantings and vegetation. With the construction of the rain garden, rainwater will be able to collect in the garden instead of pooling on the grounds, which previously rendered outdoor activities nearly impossible in the hours following a storm.

Rain Gardens
Haines Elementary students, staff and volunteers from throughout the world stand in the rain garden that will prevent flooding on the playground and serve as a lasting reminder of the Water Environment Federation’s (WEF’s) 86th Annual Technical Exhibition and Conference, WEFTEC 2013, held at McCormick Place. (Photo credit: MWRD)


The service project helped kick off the Water Environment Federation’s (WEF's) 86th Annual Technical Exhibition and Conference, WEFTEC 2013, held at McCormick Place. A ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring WEF President Cordell W. Samuels, WEF team lead Tim Moran, school principal Ginger Lumpkin, former teacher and Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Commissioner (MWRD) President Kathy Meany, Chairman of Finance Mariyana Spyropoulos, Commissioners Debra Shore and Kari Steele, and executive director David St. Pierre was held later in the day.

Each year, dozens of WEFTEC participants arrive to their destinations early to participate in a service project. This year, more than 100 helped, the most since the first rain garden was constructed in 2008. Perhaps traveling the farthest was Hana Schoon, Community Relations Executive with Singapore's PUB, the national water agency.

"Singapore water resources are precious because Singapore has densely populated land with limited space to store rainfall and no natural aquifers and lakes. We consistently stress the need to conserve water," Schoon said.

"Capturing rain where it falls and allowing that water to recharge our underground water supply is something we need to be doing throughout the Chicago region," said MWRD Commissioner Debra Shore. "Having water professionals construct a rain garden here shows their commitment to managing water resources wisely and will leave a lasting sign of their good work."

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