On November 1, the morning was crisp and the volunteers were full of energy. Over 40 community members arrived at 7:30 a.m. to learn about green infrastructure and a relatively new idea called low impact development. By lunchtime a 20-foot wide and 200-foot long area in front of Mesa Urban Garden and neighboring restaurant, República Empanada, had over fifty native plants installed, rockwork purposefully placed, and organic mulch topping the surface!
For the City of Mesa, the completed planting will provide a demonstration of specially designed landscaping, including curb cuts, to help capture and beneficially use stormwater runoff from the street and sidewalk. The project will allow City staff to evaluate low impact development practices, which is a requirement of Mesa’s municipal stormwater permit issued by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. Some of the greatest benefits expected would be to reduce landscape water use while remediating polluted runoff before it reaches natural waterways. Funding for the project was provided by a grant from the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.
The city partnered with Mesa Urban Garden, República Empanada and Watershed Management Group for the project planning. Clean Air Cab purchased trees for the site as part of their goal to reduce their carbon footprint (trees soak up CO2). Graduate students from nearby Arizona State University’s School of Sustainability will be evaluating the project benefits. The demonstration site will enhance the community garden and restaurant by providing shade, beautification and pedestrian amenities to community members. The site will also include educational signage and will benefit from the visitors to the adjoining Mesa Urban Garden that already serves as a mechanism for community-building and educating people about the importance of sustainability.
Watershed Management Group led the workshop and installation of the project, providing the volunteers with a unique opportunity to learn about water harvesting techniques while getting hands-on experience. Watershed Management Group is a nonprofit who specializes in working with diverse community stakeholders, from cities to neighborhood groups in the planning, design and implementation of green infrastructure.
At the end of the day, the volunteers had a greater understanding of how to direct water flows into a landscape as they saw how all of the components connected in the completed project. Now we just need to wait for rain.
Learn more about Watershed Management Group and Green Streets – Green Neighborhood projects. To learn more about rainwater harvesting techniques to incorporate in your own landscape, see our Top 5 Reasons to Collect Rainwater for Your Landscape and How to Harvest Rainwater.
Donna DiFrancesco is a Conservation Specialist with the City of Mesa, AZ, one of fifteen Water – Use It Wisely partners to offer water-saving advice and programs.