The Mount Tabor Middle School Rain Garden transformed a parking lot courtyard from a “gray space” into a “green space” that manages stormwater, helps cool the school’s adjacent classrooms, and provides a canvas for environmental education for the students, staff, and overall community.
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Before the Rain Garden was installed, the parking lot dominated the south facing courtyard and created a hot, unappealing environment adjacent to classroom windows.
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Water in the rain garden is slowed by gravel and plants, which can keep it out of the sewer system completely or slow it down so that heavy rainfall does not overwhelm the city’s drainage system.
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Looking east, the two-foot wide pea gravel “corridor” visually connects the rain garden from end to end and allows visitors to see water cascade into the rain garden via downspouts and trench drains.
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While only 2,000 square feet, the rain garden captures and cleans water runoff from 30,000 square feet of roofs, parking lots, and asphalt play areas. Downspouts like the one here direct water from other areas into the rain garden.
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This is one of the downspouts during a rainstorm, which sent water from the school’s rooftops into the rain garden.
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Once the rainwater reaches the garden, the plants and gravel keep thousands of gallons from ever reaching the Portland sewer system. It’s estimated the rain garden saves the city more than $100,000 in infrastructure upgrades.
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A unique aspect of the rain garden is that it serves as a learning experience for other students. Here, high school students from another Portland school visit the Mount Tabor Middle School Rain Garden to learn about sustainable stormwater management.
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