Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Problems Solved

Finally, our local government has solved all the serious problems, such that we can now turn our attention to our total lack of public rain gardens. Yes, a rain garden in the works for Racine, as part of a larger, unspecified environmental education program, this according to a recent Milwaukee Journal article. My question: what is a rain garden and how have we managed so long without one?

35 comments:

colt said...

The Rain Garden is anouther line on the Mayor's Resume as he networks into a "Green" Job

A Rain Garden is something a home owner might do or a Communty Garden NOT the City of Racine.

Pariah Jeep said...

From the 12/22/07 Journal Sentinel aricle that talked about the rain gardens:

"Mayor Gary Becker also plans to devote time and energy to keeping the KRM rail expansion alive."

Translated liberally:

"Taxpayer money will be spent on consultants, marketers, lobbyists, and consultants to the consultants, marketers and lobbyists."

Michael Gibson said...

Translated truthfully: Taxpayer money will be spent on a project that will, in the long run, help our community.

Caledonication said...

Blah, blah, blah, blah...

Denis Navratil said...

Michael, what is a rain garden?

Pariah Jeep said...

School is out so it looks like the arrogant, snotty prepubescent little puke will be posting all week. Post away, I don't read them!

Denis, a rain garden is a small, artificial body of water into which one throws lots of money.

Caledonia Unplugged said...

Denis, living in Caledonia, rain gardens are not a new subject.

The idea is to lessen rain water runoff from impervious surfaces by planting areas with specific native plants that will soak up the water into the ground rather than pouring it into retention ponds or storm sewers, thus reducing the chance for puddling and flooding.

Do they work? Yeap, if, and this is a big IF, planted correctly. Unfortunately, most of these native plants take some time to root and grow, so the benefit may not be seen for a few years during which time noxious weeds tend to takeover where the native plants should be.

The trick is to babysit these gardens constantly until the native plants are strong and abundant enough to choke out the weeds...or pay hundreds or thousands for weed irradication in the interim.

In Caledonia, we now have an entire committee devoted to essentially this "babysitting" problem (with legal counsel needed at the committee meetings - taxpayer bucks) since most new developments are including large areas of open space that require (by Caledonia ordinance) the native plantings. I've sat in on meetings where some of our biggest developers have been called on the carpet and publicly chastised (and what I can only refer to as threatened with punitive action) for the grandiose sin of allowing buckthorn and garlic mustard to take hold in some of these open space areas.

Doing a lot to foster goodwill between the Village and local developers...NOT!

I will say, though, in Caledonia, no taxpayer money is being spent to start these rain gardens. They're the responsibility of either the homeowner, businessman, or developer of the subdivision - until a condo or subdivision association takes over control of the open space.

Caledonication said...

CU, thank you for explaining this in balanced detail.

Caledonication said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Caledonication said...

CU = contributions unadulterated

;-)

Pariah Jeep said...

Yes, thank you! This sounds great - for the private sector. I would rather pay for more police and fire before we create the modern seventh wonder of the world though.

colt said...

Like I said something for a home owner or Coomunty Garden to do.
At one time the 6th St group was going to get State funds to build one as abatement for run off trash.
but much of that cash would have came from matching funds, (property owners)
The Mayor did not like the idea much

Denis Navratil said...

Thanks calunp. Is this just a flood prevention program? Could there be more to it, like preventing chemicals etc... from running into the lake?

Caledonia Unplugged said...

Denis, you bring up a good point. I've yet to see the rain gardens work any better than a retention pond for flood control, but with the rain garden you do have the added benefit of the ground filtering out some of the impurities from runoff.

For instance, in Caledonia (obviously this is the only point of reference I have :^) we have some of the highest levels of pollution from runoff going into the root river. When I asked one of our local environmentalists what was the major source of pollution, i.e., previously contaminated soil, industrial polution (though unlikely since we have very little industry) I was told "manure!"

Here's the conundrum - the environmentalists in Caledonia want horse farmers and crop farmers to flourish, yet these are some of the major sources of Caledonia-based pollutants.

My understanding is that the rain gardens will help filter that manure before it reaches the ground water - in a very similar fashion to a mound system, and their very existence will soak up some of that runoff before it reaches the river.

However, I'm not certain they work so well with heavy duty industrial-based pollutants. Common sense would tell you that manure, being a biological entity and easily broken down, not to mention a natural fertilizer, is a pollutant that a rain garden will easily filter from the soil and in turn, the manure will aid in the growth of the rain garden.

However, with industrial pollutants and chemicals, will the earth filter these and/or will these chemicals harm the root systems of the rain garden, thereby lessening its effectiveness and allowing chemicals to leach through.

Maybe someone out there has better information on rain gardens as a filtering system for chemicals. If the goal is simply to eliminate the chemical runoff from reaching the lake, retention ponds, IMHO, are less expensive, less time consuming and more effective...BUT NOT PART OF THE GREEN AGENDA!

I think colt is on the right track - this goes hand in hand with the Great Lakes Compact and probably a resume item for some environmentally related position in the future.

A side note: I mentioned Caledonia does not tax citizens for rain garden creation...YET. There's no doubt in my mind if they could get away with having taxpayer subsidies, they'd do it in a heartbeat. In fact there is a movement to replace the creation of retention ponds in the I-94 corridor for new development with rain gardens. This is being examined by our drainage commission - the same commission that led Caledonia into an $800,000+ deficit on impact fees for drainage projects on the east side of the village!

OK - Denis, were you looking for one-word answer! lol

Caledonia Unplugged said...

Denis, coincidentally, I just had a conversation with an individual that wants this question asked?

If the Mayor is so concerned about pollution getting into the lake, why is he allowing the tons of snow (laden with road salt) to be dumped directly into the lake off Pershing Park? Does the Mayor not realize that this road salt is a major contributor to phosphorous pollution?

Pariah Jeep said...

I worked with a gentleman who was interested in bioremediation several years ago. Specifically, he wanted to use fungi to absorb heavy metals from contaminated areas. I suggested inserting a reporter gene into the mushrooms so that they would turn from tan to red when they were "full", but anyway, this requires constant replenishment of the original organisms and you have to find someplace to put the newly contaminated organisms. This could work within this rain garden idea but it would be a lot of work and money to maintain, besides, the real trick is to find a way to stop generating the toxic waste.

As for dumping the salt in the lake, this is a classic. Erect the monument to green-ness where everyone can see it but dump the other stuff quietly out back when no one is looking. I'm not aware of the acceptable method for salt disposal (there might be some ppm spec on the salt in the snow) and the lake dumping may be (probably is) perfectly acceptable. However, universities and large hospital complexes have an acceptable yearly dumping spec of something in the millicurie range for tritium (radioactive isotope of hydrogen with a half-life of over twelve years) so acceptable should be "acceptable".

Anonymous said...

I love how they saddle Becker with systemic problems.

Remember the Republican mantra vis-a-vis Ronald Reagan regarding pollution:

quote Reagan:
"Let them wear gasmasks!"

Anonymous said...

Stop your tantrums, Caledonication. Every word of what Michael said about you was true. Adding to that, you were probably a two-time Bush voter. Why should anyone listen to you or any one else who made such horrible choices (Denis).

Caledonication said...

Blah, blah, blah, blah...

Michael Gibson said...

Shut up anonymous. I dream about Caledonication in my weak, but frequent wet dreams (or maybe I am just wetting the bed). I imagine someday having an intellectual orgy with all the brain-muscle the regulars have to offer. (Anonymous Loser)

Denis Navratil said...

Thanks again calunp and pariah for the info. So a rain garden seems a bit like solar panels, that is, an inefficient, potentially costly, symbolic feel good gesture that will have little to no positive impact on the environment but may have a large positive effect on the job prospects of one local politician. I was planning to call the mayor about another matter which I hope to share with readers very soon. If I remember, I will ask him if the salt dumpage is harmful.

Anonymous said...

Rain gardens and their purposes are described here in great detail. www.raingardens.org

colt said...

Sir

I think that Coal, Solar along with Wind and Nukes have a place in getting this country off of oil.
We must start today vs waiting.
Think of it like this. In Iraq we have men and women being killed (I think we should be there) if it was not for oil we would not be, just like Chad we would care little.
For the sake of our armed forces could we not put in a few of the funny lights (save engery) recycle more (every AU can recycled saves the engery to run a TV for 6 hours) maybe explore taping the land fill for Methaine?

Anonymous said...

Is that how desperate you are, Caledonication, having to pose as your enemy to make him look as stupid as you? You are a perfect example of the "victory at all costs" technique that Denis talked about earlier. Answer the questions, we answer yours.

Anonymous said...

A rain garden is just a plot of plants that will soak up rain water. You plant it on a property and direct some/all of the drainage there instead of into storm sewers. This lets the water seep into the water table and the lake through the natural filtration of the earth - the way it used to before we paved most of the area. The reduction in runoff is a good thing.

This is usually done on individual properties to mitigate their contribution to the total storm runoff. If the city wants to do this to city properties to reduce the runoff generated by city buildings, that is a good use of taxpayer money.

Anonymous said...

Denis -

Should we be prevented from doing anything because there is always bigger fish to fry? Must we always evaluate every potential action and abandon it if it turns out there is a worse or bigger problem than the one we are looking at now?

I think the city government can focus on multiple areas - indeed they should do this. I would be very upset with leadership if they could not multi-task.

Denis Navratil said...

Thanks anon 7:08 for the link.

Denis Navratil said...

anon 10:48, you ask a fair question. No, I don't think that the city should be prevented from doing small things. But it is worth asking if those small things are worth implementing, or if they are merely feel good gestures. For the record, I have not reached a conclusion on the subject but as usual, I am skeptical. Is it OK anon to be skeptical of the agenda of our government representatives anon? To me it is participation, a good thing.

Caledonication said...

"Is that how desperate you are, Caledonication, having to pose as your enemy to make him look as stupid as you? You are a perfect example of the "victory at all costs" technique that Denis talked about earlier. Answer the questions, we answer yours."

Oh, you mean that posting as an example of posing as michael gibson, following the anonymous post posing as Denis?

Wasn't me, but thank you for the attention. Kudos to you for actually absorbing something Denis said, or maybe the kudos should go to Denis? I have no enemies that I am aware of. If there are such enemies, it is in their own mind. Is there a specific question you had in particular? I'd be happy to answer it for you. I promise to actually answer it too, not just take a dump and squeal, "Look at me, look at me!", the way you do. However, you will have to establish an account name, so that I will know which anonymous to respond to.

Anonymous said...

Blah, blah, blah....

I was not talking about that post in particular when I told you to answer questions. Also, you are the one who takes a dump and squeals "look at me!" What else would your tantrums be for?

Caledonication said...

Ok anon, you win.

Caledonication said...

--->> NOT! <<---

Caledonication said...

HAHHAHAHHAHAHHOOOO-HOOOO-HAAA!!


Damn! That's some funny stuff...

Anonymous said...

Wow, amazing intellectual argument; I don't see how I can disprove that.

Caledonication said...

Well hey anony-mouse, you reap what you sow.

Still waiting for a legitimate question and account name from you.