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Somewhere Over the Rain Garden

A rain garden is a planting designed to soften the impact of stormwater runoff by slowing flow rates and allowing the water more time to soak into the ground.  These gardens use various techniques and materials to slow the flow of water.

In a recent talk at a UC Davis climate-change conference, Cunningham Engineering’s Cheryl Sullivan explained that under developed conditions runoff accounts for 30% of annual rainfall (in natural conditions, less than 1 percent).  Grassy swales and rain gardens can capture and filter 90% of urban runoff, removing significant amounts of pollution.  As a simple tip, Cheryl suggests disconnecting downspouts from underground drainage and creating a swale or slope to take water directly to a rain garden rather that having it pool around a building.

To see how sustainable design elements can be incorporated into actual projects, check out some of our workFor more information on sustainable design and stormwater quality, read through the following San Francisco Chronicle articles featuring Cheryl.

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