The idea for the 10,000 Rain Gardens initiative was generated as part of the city of Kansas City’s stormwater management efforts, with participation of its Stormwater Steering Committee. With Mayor Kay Barnes’ adoption of the initiative, the program has been funded by Kansas City's comprehensive citywide stormwater management plan, called KC-One. Black & Veatch is the prime contractor for KC-One and has been active in the initiative by making various presentations, participating in training sessions and assisting with a mayoral-appointed advisory panel of civic leaders.
The 10,000 Rain Gardens initiative links citizens, corporate sponsors, educators and members of non-profit organizations with government officials to take action on important environmental issues like water quality and stormwater flow. Planting 10,000 actual rain gardens in the Kansas City area during the next few years should reduce potential problems with water pollution and stream degradation.
A rain garden is a shallow basin or depression planted with native plants. The native plants have deep roots that allow water to infiltrate into the soil. According to recent research, properly designed rain gardens can effectively trap and retain a high percentage of common pollutants in urban storm runoff, potentially improving water quality and promoting the conversion of some pollutants into less harmful compounds.
The Kansas City initiative received an Honorable Mention Award in the 2006 Waste Management/U.S. Conference of Mayors City Livability Awards Program at their annual conference in Las Vegas.
Black & Veatch Commitment to Rain Gardens
On April 21, 2007, Black & Veatch celebrated the first birthday of its own rain garden, the first corporate rain garden in Kansas City. Local officials joined B&V Rain Garden Brigade members for the celebration. As part of the ceremony, Dan McCarthy announced the launch of Phase II of the Rain Garden program, which includes the transformation of an existing, engineered detention basin into a bio-retention basin this summer. The new rain garden will further attenuate stormwater volumes and enhance water quality through the addition of native plants. The bio-retention rain garden will be located at the northwest corner of the company’s 8400 Ward Parkway site.
The existing detention basin receives piped stormwater and releases it over a longer period of time than if the pipes were directly connected to the larger downstream stormwater system. This basin is lined with cool-season turfgrass consisting of fescue. To increase infiltration and to increase stormwater pollution uptake, the existing basin will be retrofitted with native plant materials. These native plants will enhance infiltration of stormwater and increase deep percolation into the soil profile, with development of deep fibrous roots throughout the soil profile.
Beyond its own garden walls, B&V Water is currently involved in a wide variety of environmental projects to harvest rainwater, improve drainage and manage stormwater runoff.
As part of an extensive water management project at a major airport in the UK, for example, B&V is designing a rainwater harvester that will collect stormwater run-off for use in the airport's non-potable water supply system, for fire fighting, toilet flushing, etc.
B&V Water recently designed and built three rain gardens in Charlotte, North Carolina, for the Charlotte Mecklenburg Utilities. One large and two small rain gardens were planted at the McDowell Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant in order to capture all rainfall on the plant site and to save it from discharging into the main water supply.
Rain gardens are also catching on in Kansas City and the surrounding areas. Black & Veatch provided support for a 5,500-square-foot rain garden design developed by the Kansas City Art Institute and partners. The boomerang-shaped garden will be planted with 18 varieties of low-maintenance, native Missouri plants to improve drainage.
In Johnson County, Kansas, B&V Water is planning a rain garden with WaterOne at its new Phase V water treatment plant. Groundbreaking for the plant took place in April.