Arkansas Rain Garden
Stormwater runoff: A problem in need of a beautiful solution
From the air, the view of an American city divides into two colors: grey and green. The grey areas are the buildings, roadways and parking lots of the constructed environment. The green areas are the forest remnants, leftover fields, and stream corridors of the more natural environment. This grey and green matrix has an unseen interdependence due to the fact of rain.
Each year a total of 46 inches of rain falls on all of the surfaces of Northwest Arkansas. Because they grey surfaces of roof, parking lot and road cannot absorb their own portion of the rain, they must quickly discharge the liquid. Through drains and pipes and culverts, the rainwater is directed towards the sponge-like streams and wetlands of the green areas.
Our gray areas are poorly connected to the green ones. Landscapes that depend on a slow supply of rainwater are instead given a feast and famine approach: overfed by huge amount of flow at each storm event and starved by the lack of a steady flow of water to replenish the groundwater. This wreaks havoc with our local streams and our urban landscapes. We need to capture the rain with plants and proper grading, and allow the rainwater to slowly soak into the soil. Arkansas Rain Garden will improve the relationship of grey to green by slowing down the runoff and allowing it to soak into the ground.