2016 RiverSmart Rain Garden Performance Study: Examining Long-Term Stewardship and Performance of RiverSmart Rain Gardens

Urban Ecosystem Restorations, Inc. (UER), together with its partners The Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) and the University of Maryland’s College of Agriculture & Natural Resources (UMD), received a 2016 RiverSmart Innovation Grant in Spring 2016. The District of Columbia’s Department of Energy & Environment (DOEE) awards RiverSmart Innovation Grants as start-up funding for community-oriented, innovative projects that educate residents on stormwater issues and achieve quantifiable outcomes. The proposal submitted by UER and its partners is one of nine selected from a pool of 35.

The team designed and implemented a study for RiverSmart Homes that examined existing stewardship practices for a select group of residential RiverSmart Homes rain gardens.  As part of the study, the team educated participants about the best, most cost-effective ways to maintain rain gardens and similar vegetative best management practices.

Through the RiverSmart Homes program, District homeowners may receive incentives to install rain gardens to capture stormwater, reducing pollution of District waterways and the Chesapeake Bay. If these rain gardens are not effectively maintained over time, however, they may not perform as anticipated.

This pilot project evaluated the stormwater management performance of approximately 30 rain gardens installed through the RiverSmart Homes program in the Anacostia watershed, along with costs of maintenance and common maintenance practices. Based on project results, the team recommended strategies for improving monitoring, maintenance, and homeowner stewardship to achieve long-term success of the RiverSmart Homes program goals.

The project team thanks DOEE for its support and looks forward to innovating within the RiverSmart Homes program and to collaborating with homeowners and our community partners on this exciting project.