By Drew Jack
Have you ever seen a real, live bioswale? If not, head over to the Richmond Greenway to take a peek. On the 18th of July, The Watershed Project held an official ribbon cutting ceremony for the Richmond Greenway Bioswale, which is situated between 6th and 8th streets on the Greenway. The bioswale project was constructed by the Iron Triangle/Santa Fe residents of Richmond, school groups from Contra Costa County, and individuals from all over the Bay Area with guidance from The Watershed Project staff. This project stands as a fine example of how a community can transform a blighted piece of land into an opportunity that both protects the community’s health and provides an arena for natural science education, recreation, and exploration.
The bioswale, as many readers are probably aware, is an LID (Low Impact Design) measure that collects and cleans the runoff from nearby roofs, driveways, roads, and sidewalks. It cleans rainfall runoff using three principles: slowing of the water, infiltrating the water into the soil, and enabling plants to absorb the water. Native vegetation within the bioswale slows the velocity of the runoff, which allows sediment to drop out. It also acts as a sponge, absorbing the runoff, which in turn decreases the total volume that is released into the Bay. The native vegetation aids in building soils by adding organic material; this enables the soil to hold more water and allows more rapid infiltration of water into the ground. These three processes clean the water and reduce the total rainfall runoff volume entering into the Bay.
The ribbon cutting ceremony afforded the Watershed Project the opportunity to showcase the hard work that both the staff and the community members have put into the project. It also gave us an excuse to have some ice cream. The support of the community was cemented by the presence of local community leaders in attendance. The Mayor of Richmond Gale McLaughlin, Richmond City Councilman Tom Butt, Program Officer from the Strategic Growth Council of California Penny Harding, and folks from the Richmond Parks Department, including Chris Chamberlain came out to celebrate.
Additionally, there were employees from the U.S. EPA, The Watershed Project, and of course, local residents and volunteers all out slurping popsicles and learning about the project. Attendees were exuberant about the project and the many future projects to come to Richmond. Don’t worry, if you missed the ice cream this round, there are two new projects beginning on the Richmond Greenway. If you are interested in participating in the upcoming projects, please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.