Location: Museum, Outside Entryway
When it rains, solid surfaces such as parking lots, streets, and sidewalks do not allow the water to soak into the ground. This contributes to the pollution of the water. Rain gardens collect the water and slowly filter it back into the soil, naturally removing pollutants from the runoff. When planted with the right types of plants, rain gardens also provide habitats for birds, butterflies and other wildlife.
Urban rain gardens at the Kalamazoo Valley Community College’s Anna Whitten Hall and Kalamazoo Valley Museum help manage the negative effects of stormwater runoff and pollution. The garden beds in both locations utilize “bioretention media.” This refers to an intentional way of layering soil, mulches, turf and grasses to maximize the filtration of heavy metals and other pollutants from the stormwater.
Permeable paver systems used near the garden beds at the two sites improve the negative impact of stormwater runoff. Water filters through the pavers into internal storage chambers so there is less chance of flooding. The pavers provide filtration that eliminates some pollutants.
Stormwater originates from rain and melting snow. In natural landscapes, the soil can better absorb stormwater because plants help hold it close to where it falls.
A cistern is a vessel that is used to hold liquids, especially water. The cistern at the College’s Food Innovation Center catches rainwater that falls on the roof of the greenhouse. Filters inside the cistern remove debris and contaminants from the water so it can be saved and used later.
A plant is considered native if it has occurred naturally in a particular region, ecosystem, or habitat without human introduction. Native plants are adapted to the local climate and soil conditions where they naturally occur. Native wildflowers, grasses, and shrubs generally have very deep root systems that prevent erosion and provide extra filtration. Most native plants also cast off their roots annually, growing new roots and providing more soil aeration and pathways for water to flow. Native plants thrive with minimum care and provide food and shelter for wildlife.
This Museum site is part of a larger project of the Kalamazoo Valley Community College Arcadia Commons and Bronson Healthy Living Campuses. It was designed to maintain green infrastructure while also educating community members about waste water management issues. The project was initiated by Kalamazoo Valley Community College and has been funded in part through Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s Nonpoint Source Program by the United States Environment Protection Agency.