By Natalie Cook, E.I.T., Donahue & Associates, Inc.

The new Young Professionals are looking younger and younger every year, but this year took an impressive jump. Central States Water Environment Association (CSWEA) volunteers were joined by elementary school students from Chicago's Skinner North Classical School for the CSWEA Annual Conference Service Project, sharing shovels, wheel barrows, and learning about raingardens.

This year was the first for the CSWEA Service Project, where eight CSWEA volunteers spent their Monday turning a flooding low point in the Skinner school playground into a raingarden. Volunteers began the day by filling the raingarden with a layer of gravel to act as underground stormwater storage. This was then covered by a layer of soil, and wet/dry tolerant raingarden plantings. The raingarden overflows into a city stormdrain, diverting the initial rainfall of each storm away from the city stormwater system and into the soil.

Volunteers also taught Skinner students about stormwater design, green infrastructure, and infiltration measurement. Skinner students, and several experienced water professionals, learned to use and interpret measurements from a double disk infiltrometer. According to calculations by Skinner students (and checked by CSWEA engineers), the 250 square foot raingarden will divert approximately 25 bathtubs worth of water from each storm from the Chicago storm sewer, while keeping the playground dry.

In the afternoon, volunteers were joined by MWRD Vice President Barbara McGowan, who joined in on the hard work and gifted the school with a rain barrel.

Volunteers finished at the site late Monday afternoon and managed to get the last plants in the ground just in time for CSWEA's first service project to experience its first rainstorm.

The raingarden was made possible by donations from Chicago’s Department of Water Management, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, Chicago Department of Streets & Sanitation Bureau of Forestry, The Spirited Gardener, Midwest Trading, Midwest Groundcover, Donohue & Associates, Inc., Carollo Engineers, Ostara Nutrient Recovery Technologies Inc, Scott Byron & Co, and several individual donors.

Click here to watch the recap video!

CSWEA Volunteers!


City Stormdrain the raingarden overflows into.


Laying the soil and wet/dry tolerant raingarden plantings.

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