Butterflies and Bioretention

???????????????????????????????A muddy garbage-strewn area at a Fitchburg Housing Authority site has been transformed into a beautiful butterfly garden that provides habitat for butterflies and other pollinators as well as environmental learning opportunities for children.

What was the problem?  During rain events, water flowing from a nearby hillside could not percolate through the soil and pooled in a flat area below resulting in an unsightly wet area.  With the help of Fitchburg DPW, a trench was dug and crushed stone and a perforated pipe was laid.   After filling in the trench, 1,000 sq. ft of soil was removed from the top 18 inches around the area and a sandy loam was added.  This final layer was graded with a slight bowl shape to aid in ????????????????????water retention.  The very next day after completion, a heavy rain left no puddle!  To get ready to plant the garden, this loam layer was overlaid with a permeable weed barrier and a stone pathway was created.  Then, with the help of neighborhood residents, community volunteers and a work crew from the United Way Day of Caring, over 100 colorful butterfly-attracting plants were planted in the sandy loam area.

MOC Bfly garden plantedThis bioretention area is part of a larger “Big Field” project aimed at transforming a large green space at Green Acres Village, a Fitchburg Housing Authority complex, into a multi-generational active living space. The Big Field project is part of Fun ‘n FITchburg’s efforts to prevent obesity and get people more physically active.

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Community Stormwater Solutions in Action Lessons from Monoosnoc Brook

Oct 17 CSSIA workshop

Stormwater is a leading cause of damage to streams, lakes, and water supplies. Fortunately,there are effective ways to prevent and fix polluted runoff. Leominster took a community approach to stormwater problems to remove 500 tons of debris and sediment from Monoosnoc Brook.

Municipal boards, builders, engineers, and watershed and lake associations will gain practical information to make positive impacts in their own communities at a free workshop on October 17, 2014 at Leominster Library. Expert speakers will present guidance in selecting practices to achieve more pollutant reduction for less cost. The free 2-hour workshop will be followed by an optional tour of nearby bio-swales, tree box filters, porous walkways and other BMP’s.

Pre-registration is requested – email mwc@commonwaters.org , or telephone 978-534-0379.

The Monoosnoc Brook project has been partly supported with Federal funds from the Environmental Protection Agency to the MA Department of Environmental Protection under an s.319 competitive grant.

Sediment basins keep dirt out of lake

??????????????????????????????? Shallow basins can be easily formed by building berms between the road and the lake.  These berms prevent dirty runoff from entering the lake by creating areas where rain and snowmelt can soak into the ground, be filtered and deposit solids such as road sand.  Because the basin is open, it’s easy to remove accumulated sediments each year or more often, as needed.

Construction is quite straight forward.  A triangular stack of poles or logs forms the base of the berm, which is covered with soil material retrieved while cleaning the lake shore.  The soil on the side of the berm is planted and/or seeded, providing useful habitat (turtle nesting beside one basin) that needs little or no maintenance.

Lanza berm constructionSeven simple basins were built by volunteers for under $500 and capture over 10 tons of sediments a year.  The top photo shows a three-year old sediment basin during a rainy day.  The bottom photo shows six-week old construction – riprap will be placed on each end.