During the summer in New Mexico, you can expect to see a lot of rain fall to the earth within an hour. A half-inch. An inch. Did you see the water flowing down the streets, carrying dirt, gravel, and pollutants? This monsoon season has offered several (though not enough) opportunities to get wet and see the impacts of stormwater, particularly in Albuquerque’s downtown area during a local storm. The monsoon is also the time to appreciate visible, functioning Green Infrastructure. Players across the mid Rio Grande region are designing and building green infrastructure as a stormwater management strategy with beneficial uses.
Basins filled with rainwater are soothing and cooling, while they absorb water from rooftops and parking lots, allowing it to slowly infiltrate and nurture plants. The basins in these photos were intentionally designed to prevent stormwater flooding problems. Water that could have flowed onto streets or eroded a stream bank can instead spread, sink and nurture a living landscape.
Pine Cone Technology
Understanding your site is central in designing and nurturing a Green Infrastructure / Rainwater Harvesting solution. One of the simplest and most elegant techniques I found this year is in Rick Borkovetz and Diane Scena’s front yard.
The native blue gramma grass is largely sustained by natural precipitation. Rick describes: “The grass slopes downward to the sidewalk. To solve the problem of losing precious stormwater that used to flow onto the sidewalk, we dug a small trench along the edge of the sidewalk and filled it with pine cones that drop from the trees overhead. The trench captures the stormwater before it reaches the sidewalk. This seems to be where many of the ‘feeder’ roots of the pines are located so the stormwater is concentrated where it will be most beneficial. Over time, the pine cones break down into mulch that can then be shoveled back onto the grass, and the trench is refilled with new cones: a never ending cycle.”
Opportunities to Grow Water Solutions
The 2014 Forum for Innovative Stormwater Infrastructure will be on Friday afternoon, October 10 at UNM. The New Mexico Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (NMASLA) convenes this open forum each year. Six presentations from landscape architects, other professionals and advocates for green infrastructure will share their stories and news about projects and policies. The forum is free and registration is required.
NMASLA also offers a great opportunity for hands-on learning, on the morning of October 10: The Green Streets BootCamp with James DeRoussel from Tucson’s Watershed Management Group. Registration and a fee are required.
Compost happens, but in this arid land it helps to have some knowledge and experience! Master Composters teach others how to compost. The training course to become a Master Composter is scheduled from October 11 to November 8 in the North Valley. The course gives you the expertise to volunteer with Bernalillo County Extension Master Composters. There is a fee for the training and some volunteer hours are required.
We have the water blues, but green solutions are appearing in New Mexico and around the U.S. Water Blues, Green Solutions is a documentary film about four cities that are confronting water quality and supply issues with innovations in green infrastructure, water conservation and strong public involvement programs. Querencia Green and other champions are requesting a local TV broadcast of the film. The DVD is available for home and educational screenings, and resources are available to explore on the website.