Thursday, January 17, 2013

Stormwater at Schools

It is the middle of winter and stormwater is on our minds here in Portland. It is a topic most kids are drawn to. What little kid can resist a puddle? We have a fabulous opportunity to teach with stormwater at our schools. It is visible, occurs all winter long and can be quite beautiful.

Collecting Stormwater at Schools
Schools often have large surrounding sites. In Portland they are one of the largest urban land holders. That means lots of rain and lots of roof to capture rain. Plenty of our schools have lots of asphalt too. The wonderful thing about working at the school is students can help throughout the entire process. See some of my favorites below.

Bridge Water Garden Before
At Bridge School not only was asphalt pavement removed, but stormwater from the roof was diverted into the water garden.

Bridge Water Garden After
Safety Hurdles
Safety is always a top concern at schools. Some of the ways you can avoid the unwanted combination of kids and water (or kids and mud) are
- locate the stormwater facility away from the high traffic areas liek the playground or main door. Place it somewhere there is a watchful eye; outside the office or classroom.
- Design it to have a maximum level of water that is still very shallow
- Avoid steep slopes
- Don't try to hold the water in a container and release it later, especially if kids will come in contact with it. You start to get into sanity issues.

Portland Public Schools has a great stormwater website with photos of their school stormwater facilities. Below are some of my favorite projects. The best projects,


Fernwood MS Students Installing Their Swale

Fernwood MS Downspout Disconnect and Swale


Harvey Scott Students Forming Their Swale

Harvey Scott School Swale and Outdoor Classroom

Maintenance at DaVinci Middle School

Da Vinvi Middle School Rain Garden

Metropolitan Learning Center
Students picking water loving plants

Metropolitan Leaning Center Swale-
Kindergarden kids compacting the soil on the edges.
Metropolitan Learning Center Swale Completed

DeLaSalle Parking Lot Swale

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