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Success Story: VIRCD Rain Garden Demonstration Project

Photo of completed rain garden two weeks after installation

Project Description:

The Virgin Islands Resource Conservation & Development Council, Inc. (V.I. RC&D) and partners installed the territory’s first Rain Garden to help achieve the Council’s goal to provide public education and outreach to the community on how to alleviate storm water flooding and pollution problems in the Virgin Islands. The Rain Garden was built at VIWMA’s Green House Program in Estate Lower Love, St. Croix on November 29 & 30, 2007 as part of a hands-on training and demonstration project open to the community. V.I. RC&D members, volunteers, and partner agency staff – the V.I. Department of Agriculture (Agriculture), the V.I. Waste Management Authority (VIWMA), and the NRCS St. Croix Field Office – all pitched in to create a beautiful and functional storm water best management practice (BMP). Regulatory staff from the V.I. Department of Planning & Natural Resources (DPNR) – even the Commissioner! – were present at the event opening to answer participants’ questions about how to submit permits for rain gardens.

The VIWMA Green House site was chosen because 1) it was being flooded by storm water run off from an adjacent parking lot and driveway; and 2) VIWMA has an environmental education and outreach program at the Green House that is open to the public for tours and workshops five days a week. V.I. RC&D, Agriculture and VIWMA are actively promoting use of rain gardens, including publishing newspaper, newsletter and website articles. Thirty-four volunteers donated over 180 hours, with funding from a nonpoint source pollution management (§319) grant awarded to V.I. RC&D by DPNR’s Environmental Protection Division, to make this rain garden happen! Tours and visits for youth groups, interested property owners, and contractors are provided by VIWMA so that all can see the Rain Garden in action!

Impacts and Outcomes: Green Benefits to the Community

  • Volunteers excavate rain garden & build berm.4 newspaper articles / announcements produced & published
  • 6 electronic media produced (1 webpage, 1 ad, 1 email announcement / news release, 2 factsheets, 1 permit application/project plan)
  • 4 publications produced & distributed (3 factsheets & 1 booklet)
  • 2 radio / TV interviews / segments produced & aired
  • Newspaper articles, radio interviews, television coverage, publications & electronic media dispersed to over 90,000 individuals
  • 1 fair display produced and exhibited to 30,000+ attendees of St. Croix Ag Fair
  • 2 Training sessions held
  • 27 General participants in training sessions
  • 1 Rain Garden constructed (tours & visits available 5 days a week to the public permanent site that has a RCD member / VIWMA employee to give tours and promote the project on an ongoing basis.)
  • 6 Instructors/teachers participating in training sessions
  • 2 St. Croix schools (Pearl B. Larsen Public Elementary School & Seventh Day Adventist School) now developing plans to install rain gardens.
  • 1 new residential development (Southgate Commons) now drafting plans to incorporate rain gardens into green spaces to treat storm water runoff.
  • Storm water runoff from 2-acre parking lot, roadway and fields now treated by practice
  • Ground water recharge increased by ~1-acre-foot

RC&D Council’s Role (Inputs): Volunteers planting rain garden.

V.I. RC&D led the way to build a successful – and the first-ever – rain garden in the Virgin Islands! V.I. RC&D’s recipe for Rain Garden success is:

  • Pull together 6 partner agencies/organizations (V.I. RC&D, VIWMA, VIDOA, USDA-NRCS, Rutgers CE, DPNR),
  • Use $4,884 in §319 grant funds as base,,
  • Engage a dozen community volunteers,
  • Blend in donations of technical assistance (V.I. RC&D, Rutgers CE, USDA-NRCS & Agriculture), engineering and earth-moving services (USDA-NRCS & Agriculture), construction and gardening equipment (Agriculture & VIWMA), mulch (Agriculture) and plants (VIWMA and St. George’s Village Botanical Garden), and
  • Promote aggressively through radio, newspapers, TV, website, fair displays and project tours!

The Council used §319 funds to build and promote a Rain Garden Demonstration project. Council members engaged partner organizations VIWMA and Agriculture to participate in the project. We obtained permission from VIWMA and Agriculture to construct the rain garden on Agriculture property leased by VIWMA (both agencies are sponsoring organizations of V.I. RC&D). Additionally, the Council secured engineering technical assistance from Rutgers Cooperative Extension (CE) and USDA-NRCS, and engineering and earth-moving services and donation of mulch from Agriculture to install the rain garden (loan of engineer, heavy equipment operator, Bobcat, surveying equipment). The Council also secured plant donations from the VIWMA Green House Program and the St. George’s Village Botanical Garden, and installation assistance from Green House Program staff, including use of equipment (wheelbarrow, rakes, shovels, picks and gloves). The Council leveraged funds to purchase materials and supplies, and with technical assistance from USDA-NRCS, developed and submitted the earth change permit application (project plan) to DPNR and secured the permit, secured materials, supplies and equipment, advertised the activity, and volunteered time to install the practice.

Volunteers putting finishing touches on rain garden.

Element Category: Land Management & Water Management
Total Project Value (in-kind and cash and donations): $12,533;

V.I. RC&D Council’s contribution (in-kind and cash): $6,785
Volunteer Contributions & donations: $5,748
Total Number of Partners: 6

For More Information:

Contact:

NRCS St. Croix Field Office at 340-692-9662 x.3.