The Watershed Project launched a plan to transform a neglected area on the Richmond Greenway with the purpose of adding low-impact developments that mitigate flooding and filter polluted storm water. This project started in 2012, and while the last four years had its share of delays and roadblocks, the obstacles did not deter our enthusiasm. We are excited to announce that our efforts propelled us to completing a rain garden, bioswale, habitat garden, 6 tree box filters, and planting shade trees! We would like to extend our warmest thanks to the State of California Natural Resources Agency and the Parks and Water Bond of 2006 for supporting our project. We also want to thank everyone who voted for the bond!
The project site, where the Greenway and 21st street intersect, was initially an unappealing strip of the pathway, with overgrown weeds and flooding issues that resulted in damaged paved streets. The long-term flooding problem stemmed from aging and clogged drainage systems, large areas of impervious surfaces, heavy clay soil, and relatively flat terrain. Without plant vegetation to absorb and filter the streams that run through the streets, this polluted storm water drained directly into the San Francisco Bay. However, with the installation of green infrastructure, the storm water drains through amended soil and gravel that absorb pollutants. These systems work together to infiltrate water into the ground and clean excess runoff before it reaches the Bay, restoring the natural function of our watershed.
Our site also serves as a safe corridor for community members, an outdoor classroom through service learning projects for students and community engagement opportunities for volunteers through multiple workday events. We hosted numerous service learning programs with students from Vista High School, Redwood Day School, and Merritt College. Groups from Nutiva and staff members from De La Salle High School also reached out to coordinate workdays, while Americorps members helped out during MLK day. These volunteers rolled up their sleeves to lay jute, dig holes, spread mulch and newspaper, and utilize newly acquired planting skills. We also had 4 UC Berkeley engineering students work on the Greenway and help develop our Rains to Roots service learning high school curriculum. Two of the students even stayed on to be part of our summer intern team. Our Green Collar Corps members put in work, doing the heavy lifting as well as holding responsibility for the weekly maintenance of our gardens. Students from the California College of the Arts created beautiful hand-made signs identifying plant species, which are now displayed throughout the bioswale. All of our participants have learned the functions of rain gardens and bioswales; how these features filter storm water and provide habitat for urban wildlife such as birds, butterflies, bees, and other beneficial insects. We are excited to use this site as a teaching tool for many years to come!
The Watershed Project is ecstatic to watch over this site and continue advocating for and implementing green infrastructure throughout the city. Our gardens and swale provide multi-faceted deliverables with its mix of native species that thrive in both wet and dry conditions and provide habitat for wildlife, while adding color and aesthetic beauty to the Greenway. We installed benches and bike racks for neighbors to relax and enjoy the space.
Community members appreciate what we have done, and we appreciate the volunteers that come out to help! Our gardens and bioswale are waiting for you to visit! If you’re interested in volunteering please contact Martha@thewatershedproject.org.