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Public Works storm water garden will clean while it educates

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New wetlands, rain garden, basin treat runoff naturally

By Todd Martin

The Shelbyville Department of Public Works is going native with its facility, and it needs the public’s help.

Starting today, Public Works will be planting more than 1,800 native plants in its new rain garden, bioretention treatment basin and constructed wetlands area at its facility at 787 Kentucky St.

The new features are part of the department’s efforts to clean the stormwater runoff from its own property and to educate the public as part of the EPA’s Municipal Separate Stormwater Sewer Systems (MS4) program.

Public Works Director/City Engineer Jennifer Herrell said her employees will be planting on  from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. today, and she is inviting the public to help as well. She hopes to have between 50 and 75 percent of the planting done today and plans to continue Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon, or whenever the planting is finished.

The public is invited to help on Saturday as well.

This weekend’s planting is the culmination of a project that started last fall with construction of the areas and seeding the grasses. Herrell said they wanted to wait till spring for planting to avoid issues with frost.

Herrell said the Public Works facility was in violation of MS4 standards, and that this project will alleviate that problem.

“We hired the consultant to design the structure, and it uses native plants to remove the pollutants and slow the drainage of water from the property,” she said.

Herrell and a consultant from Cardno/JFNew will be on hand to answer questions about the project and explain further how the garden and wetlands will work to filter out impurities.

The plan calls for a rain garden and rain barrels up against the facility. Those will utilize water from the building and slow their runoff.

The bioretention treatment basin is just south of the facility’s salt storage and truck parking. It is designed to help filter out the salt and oil impurities through the native plants and in the basin.

Along the east side of the bioretention basin is a berm that will keep water coming from off site funneled toward the wetland, which is where all of the water from the property will eventually lead. The department also recently secured a grant that will help them install pervious concrete in the area where the trucks are parked, which will further help filter out oil and other impurities left by the vehicles.

The wetlands consist of three holding pools that follow the natural path of the water runoff of the property. Each pool has a fill level that will allow it to runoff when it has too much water. The outlet from the area also includes an agridrain, which can be set to hold a certain amount before letting water run out.

The goal is to use the plants and soil to filter out impurities as it runs down the property, cleaning the water naturally before it reaches the areas creeks and streams.

Herrell said the project isn’t necessarily designed to be beautiful but to grow in full and look natural.

“It’s not manicured like a lawn or a pond in a neighborhood,” she said. “It’s supposed to look natural.”

Once the features are in place and begin to grow in and filter the runoff, Herrell and her staff can test the water where it runs off the property on the southwest corner.

Herrell said she hopes to continue to use the facility as a teaching tool long after the planting is finished.

“The goal is to get signs put up here, showing what each feature does, what plants are in it and how they work to help filter the water,” she said.

Storm water garden planting

Where: Shelbyville Public Works Department, 787 Kentucky Street

When: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. today and 9 a.m. until finished on Saturday

Why: The project will help the Public Works site be in compliance with high-level environmental standards, and the public can learn more about how wetlands, rain gardens and other features help keep our creeks, streams, rivers and lakes clean. The public is invited to help and experts will be on hand to answer questions.