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Science and the Environment
News covering policy and issues related to city and county governments in the Ozarks.

With Recognized Storm Water Practices, Springfield Hopes to Set Example for Others

New rainwater management practices at Springfield’s Government Plaza earned the applause of conservation officials Thursday. The event included the presentation of a check to the city. KSMU’s Theresa Bettmann has more.

The $15,000 check represented a local grant match provided by the Missouri Department of Conservation for this rainwater management project at the plaza.  This project, which features pervious pavement, rain gardens and a bioswale, is part of a larger program funded by the Springfield-Greene County Urban Watershed Stewardship Grant, otherwise known as “Big Urbie.” The parking lot was completed this spring as part of a two-phase construction plan that began in the fall. 

Stacey Armstrong is project manager with Watershed Committee of the Ozarks.

“This parking lot renovation is one example of a successful project we completed with ‘Big Urbie’ using low impact development techniques to solve storm water problems, while we also created a very functional and beautiful space,” Armstrong says.

Ronda Headland is community conservation planner with the Missouri Department of Conservation.  She says implementing good storm water management practices improves the quality of water flowing into area streams, which ultimately affects area lakes and rivers. Throughout the parking lot, Headland describes the many new features that re-direct water runoff.  

“Scattered throughout the parking lot are endcap raingardens, such as this one here, where water is able to drain off of the pavement of the parking lot, through these curb cuts and into the rain garden.  [Water then can] infiltrate into the ground or be taken up by the roots of the native plants,” Headland explains.

In addition to the end caps, pervious pavers and concrete allow water to soak through the joints and direct water into the large bioswale in the center of the parking lot.  Headland explains that impervious pavement does not allow water to infiltrate the ground and aquifers do not get replenished.  By improving the water quality flowing into area streams, this protects aquatic habitat for wildlife, and contributes to year-round flow of our rivers.  This not only impacts wildlife, she explains, but the local economy.

Carrie Lamb is Springfield’s water quality coordinator. Accepting the check on behalf of the city, she noted that by implementing good water resource practices here officials hope to set the example for others.

“Whenever we were thinking about projects for the ‘Big Urbie’ grant, this particular project was really important not only for the water quality benefits but also the educational benefits.  Because this is the office building that developers and the general public visit every day,” Lamb explains.

The Government Plaza project is one of several funded though “Big Urbie,” which is a $1.1 million federal grant. It was awarded to the Watershed Committee of the Ozarks in 2011 by the U.S. EPA Region 7 through the Missouri Department of Natural Resources under the Clean Water Act. The Missouri Department of Conservation is providing funding in addition to this grant.