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Great Plains LID Research and Innovation Symposium and Low Impact Development Design Competition

Tulsa Area Rain Garden Project: Successes and Lessons Learned

Richard B. Smith, Manager of Environmental & Engineering Services for INCOG

Kevin Gustavson, Sustainability Specialist for Howell & Vancuren, Inc.

Track: Applied


This presentation will describe the successes and difficult issues faced while completing a joint project between INCOG and the Oklahoma Conservation Commission for constructing four rain gardens in the Tulsa metropolitan area.  A summary of the project, including funding and partnerships, will provide the backdrop for discussing the successes and difficulties faced in completing the rain gardens.  The Public Education and Participation accomplishments (newspaper article, brochures, TV spots, OETA rain garden segments) will be described and how they support municipal stormwater discharge permit requirements of area cities and counties.  The presentation will also address the complexities that arose during the project involving site selection, engineering and design, stakeholder participation and commitments, securing a variety of donated materials, working around sponsor’s schedules, making and installing signs at each rain garden, obtaining reliable long-term maintenance commitments, coordinating multiple groups of volunteers, working within EPA grant rules and deadlines, responding to changes in weather and seasons, maintaining health and quantity of plants, repairing damage from cars and illegal dumping, and incorporating a rain garden into a street renovation project. Lastly, potential legal issues about rain gardens will be presented, including the need to investigate local codes, local permits, and whether or not rain gardens can substitute for regional detention.