DOT, DEM, URI join EPA, City of Providence in Green Jobs Training

Posted on
Rain garden being constructed at RWP Botanical Center


Myra Schwartz, EPA 617-918-0696

Dana Alexander Nolfe, RIDOT 401-222-1362 x4450

Gail Mastrati, RIDEM 401-222-4700 x240

PROVIDENCE – March 31, 2011 – Today and tomorrow, a group of landscape care professionals, municipal groundskeepers and stormwater managers are building a rain garden at the Roger Williams Park Botanical Center in a Green Jobs Training effort organized by the University of Rhode Island, the R.I. Department of Transportation and R.I. Department of Environmental Management.

RIDEM Director Janet Coit and other officials will greet the participants and review their progress at 9 a.m. on Friday, April 1.

This hands-on exercise includes a full day of classroom instruction focusing on the function, design, construction and maintenance of vegetated rain gardens. The rain garden will be used in educational programs at the botanical center and to manage stormwater. A dozen trainees from the Groundwork Providence’s green jobs training program will construct a second rain garden at Manton Heights in cooperation with the Providence Housing Authority on Thursday, April 7.

The Rhode Island Residential Rain Garden Training program will introduce green industry professionals to rain garden siting and design and help prepare them to offer rain garden installation and maintenance services to clients. The demand for residential rain gardens is expected to increase dramatically since rain gardens are a simple, low-cost and attractive way to avoid or reduce stormwater pollution. And such low impact development methods are required under the new Rhode Island Stormwater Design and Installation Standards Manual. The new manual was developed by the R.I. Department of Environmental Management and the R.I. Coastal Resources Management Council and adopted January 1, 2011.

This training program is made possible with funding from the R.I. Department of Transportation in partnership with the R.I. Department of Environmental Management under Rhode Island Stormwater Solutions – a public education and outreach project designed to raise public awareness about actions individuals can take to reduce stormwater pollution and to help municipalities establish effective stormwater management programs.

“RIDOT funds URI’s Nonpoint Education for Municipal Officials (NEMO) program as part of our Department’s Storm Water Management Program,” said RIDOT Director Michael P. Lewis. “The NEMO program created the ‘Know Where It Goes’ campaign, which is nationally recognized and is dedicated to providing public education and outreach across Rhode Island.”

According to the Department of Environmental Management, stormwater runoff is now a major source of pollution to the state’s waters. Polluted stormwater runoff closes swimming beaches and shellfishing beds, threatens our drinking water, and contributes to flooding.

Other partners in the rain garden training program include the City of Providence, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Rhode Island Nursery and Landscape Association. Instructors are from the Rutgers University Cooperative Extension, the University of Connecticut NEMO Program, and the University of Rhode Island Cooperative Extension.

What is a rain garden?

A rain garden is a planted depression, about 6 inches deep, that collects rainwater from a roof, driveway or yard and allows it to infiltrate into the ground. Rain gardens are typically planted with native shrubs or perennials that are tolerant of changing water levels. The purpose of a rain garden is to capture rainwater runoff and allow it to seep into the ground naturally before it reaches a stormdrain or a neighbor’s property. A rain garden improves water quality, helps prevent nuisance flooding, and can be designed to attract butterflies and birds. And they look good!