Vienna officials prep rain garden

VIENNA – The city of Vienna is encouraging rain gardens as a proactive approach to storm water management, the mayor said on Tuesday.

Mayor Randy Rapp is sold on the gardens and cites their effectiveness and natural beauty.

“It actually enhances the neighborhood,” Rapp said.

The city by the end of the week will complete a rain garden at 610 29th St. at a new parking lot across from city hall, Rapp said.

The rain garden soaks up water and is intended to hold at least the first inch of storm water drainage, slowly releasing the water into the surrounding soil, Rapp said. The law requires the first inch of runoff to be controlled, he said.

“There’s only so much you can do to manage water,” Rapp said. “This happens to be one of the best.”

The garden is 10-by-125 feet, he said.

About 10 feet below the surface is a 24-inch perforated pipe that will retain and slowly release to the surrounding soil the drainage water collected during extreme storms of 2-inch downpours, said Craig Metz, Vienna public works director. A drain at the surface goes into the pipe to collect water during an extreme storm, he said.

It is not the first rain garden built by the city, but it is the largest, Metz said. Two other rain gardens by the city are at Spencer Park along the alley between the park and the new parking lot.

The rain garden on 29th Street will catch storm drainage from the new paved parking lot and from the surrounding grounds, Metz said.

“This will collect a lot of water coming off that alley, too,” he said.

From top side, the rain garden will look like an ordinary garden of shrubs and plants that can be purchased anywhere, Metz said. The plants should be suitable for a lot of water, he said.

The water collected by the system, besides preventing it from flowing elsewhere, will return moisture to the soil and will be pleasing to the eye because of the landscaping, Rapp said.

It will look like the rain garden at the Vienna Baptist Church where during a recent storm when many streets were covered with high water, there was no problem from drainage from the lot, Rapp said.

“It has been very effective,” Rapp said.

Another benefit is environmental, he said. The city is being proactive and trying to stay ahead of regulations, Rapp said.

Pollutants such as road salt and motor oils carried by the storm water are removed as the water is filtered through the mulch, soil and gravel, just as water is purified in nature, Rapp said.

Otherwise, the water with pollutants could directly go to the river, Rapp said.

Residents are being encouraged to construct rain gardens, he said. The city has information available to residents about rain gardens, including construction diagrams, Rapp said.

“The city is trying to be a leader in educating people about what they can do,” Rapp said.