By Shaunak Raikar, Chapter Club student member
The Brookfield Central High School (BCHS), a Water Council Chapter Club, started an exciting Rain Garden Project for our school courtyard.
Our project allows BCHS to contribute to society for less water runoff, waste and pollution. Our plan will add many native plants, bushes, shrubs, colorful perennials, and small trees to the courtyard in our school. Having the garden in the courtyard allows everyone to enjoy the garden and plant life, posing as a great place to talk, meditate during lunch and for other events.
We’re hoping that when students and parents see our rain garden, they will be inspired to create a similar one in their own yard, providing food for birds and wildlife, improving air, water quality and soil health. We’re trying to spread the word, educate the entire student community on what we need to do to maintain a balance with nature.
The idea for the rain garden was born during the ride back from the Water Treatment Center in Waukesha in fall 2019. The Student Chapter had completed a 3-hour tour and presentation and experts explained that as urban communities expand (replacing forests and agricultural land) the increase of solid impervious surfaces becomes more problematic. The solid surfaces create a rush of water during rain storms, known as ‘stormwater runoff. The massive volume of stormwater runoff from roofs, parking lots and roads increases flooding and carries pollutants into local streams and lakes. Lawn pesticides and fertilizers wash off with the rainwater, causing decreased oxygen levels within our local lakes and rivers. Decreased oxygen levels produce declines in fish populations and affect aquatic species diversity. Building a rain garden at school was the top idea among the many discussed to promote natural landscapes, increase student collaboration and create awareness.
The team consists of the Student Chapter working with the Leaders at BCHS such as Brett Gruetzmacher (principal), Mr. Kurth (Athletics and Student Clubs Director), custodial staff and many volunteers. We work with a variety of vendors for structural design, plant and materials selection. The project is providing leadership opportunities to students in marketing, promotions, campaign management, logistics and finance. The project plan calls for the funding phase to be complete by July end and phase 1 of the garden to be complete by the middle of October. The maintenance and future enhancements are already a part of a multi-year plan, with outside donations a critical factor to our success.
We designed the project in stages to make sure one part can reasonably be planned and completed each year. The first part of our project entails leveling the area around and sprucing, prepping it. We (students at the club) would be doing much of the work. The area will be excavated below grade to capture and drain stormwater runoff. Selected plants will be planted in and around the rain garden.
LOCATION OF RAIN GARDEN HIGHLIGHTED IN RED
Rain Garden Layout and Design
While the pandemic has made our return to school life uncertain, we’re staying positive by staying committed to our plan and look forward to seeing our school courtyard vision come to life. If you’d like to learn more about our project and how you can support us, I invite you to reach out to our Club Chapter via The Water Council’s Member Connect directory feature.