News / Calgary

Calgary adding rain gardens to protect city waterways

Deep roots, high-quality soil and drainage channels help filter water before it hits reservoir .

The Marlowe Place rain garden in Winston Heights.


The Marlowe Place rain garden in Winston Heights.

From a gravel pit to a new-age water purifying system, the community of Oakridge will soon see a rain garden grace its neighbourhood. 

As part of the Calgary's Storm Water Quality Retrofit program, the city has been constructing rain gardens in communities that are without storm-water treatment facilities, said Catriona Laird, public program coordinator with water services. 

Before 1993, she said contracting companies building communities — like Oakridge — weren’t required to construct storm-water treatment sites. 

As it turns out, Oakridge is near the Glenmore Reservoir — a primary source of drinking water for Calgarians. 

So when it rains, polluted storm-water from Oakridge’s roads enters the reservoir untreated, Laird said, adding the rain garden will help solve that problem. 

The Oakridge garden will comprise low-maintenance plants with deep roots, high-quality soil and, below that, drainage channels that filter excess water through a pipe into the reservoir. By that point, the water is completely clean, Laird said.  

At first, Oakridge Community Association President Gerry Stoddart said community members were concerned the garden would replace its popular tobogganing spot. 

But through consultations with the city, Stoddart said the community has now embraced the garden. 

Plus, community members will still be able to toboggan in the winter, he said.

“(The city’s) idea of digging out and putting in a system designed to treat the ground water before it gets released into the reservoir is a positive thing for everybody.”

Other rain gardens in the city include two in Bridgeland-Riverside and two in Winston Heights-Mountview. 

Laird said she doesn’t know the exact costs of the gardens, but said they’re paid through pre-approved city budgets. 

“What we’re really excited about is that we get to add this really cool amenity into the community … while we are protecting our waterways,” she said. “It’s kind of a win-win for everybody.”

The Oakridge garden will be complete by the end of summer.

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