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This engineered rain garden collects road runoff at this busy intersection. What doesn't infiltrate flows down into under-drains to underground stormwater pipes.

Cornwall Ave. and Flora St. Rain Garden

Where is this located? It’s on the corner of Cornwall Avenue and Flora Street in front of Arlis’s Restaurant

What’s special about this place? While this stormwater used to flow untreated into Whatcom Creek, this engineered rain garden along with over 30 others, now treat and infiltrate stormwater from over 80 urban acres. These low-impact stormwater management techniques reduce the amount of money spent on large, centralized facilities. Pedestrian safety and road improvements at this intersection were combined with stormwater improvements as well. This site is one of nine Greenroads certified projects the City of Bellingham has been awarded. The Greenroads Project Rating Program challenges cities to exceed minimum environmental, social, and economic performance measures.

About Rain Gardens

rain garden is a bowl-shaped garden that collects, absorbs, and filters the rainwater that runs off hard surfaces including parking lots, driveways, sidewalks, lawns, and roofs. They provide on-site cleaning of stormwater by using special soil mixtures and low-maintenance plants that soak up runoff. The soil mixes used in rain gardens are selected to allow water to soak in rapidly, treat runoff, and support plant growth. Hardy, often native, plants are carefully selected for each site, including wildflowers, grasses, rushes, ferns, shrubs, and even small trees. These plants can have the added benefit of attracting pollinators, providing habitat for beneficial insects and birds, adding beauty, and improving neighboring property values.

Rain gardens can be small and home-made, or they can be engineered with specific materials to be highly effective. Home-made rain gardens are usually applied in smaller, residential systems working to intercept runoff that would otherwise flow onto streets. Engineered rain gardens are a type of bioretention basin and are sized for specific water quality treatment and flow control capacity that includes designed soil mixes and, often, under-drains and control structures. All the rain gardens highlighted on these tours are engineered bioretention facilities.

Water Quality Benefit: Rain gardens can capture sediment and bacteria, capture oil, pesticides, and fertilizers, and use their mulch layer to bind-up dissolved metals. Plant roots also are host to diverse microbial and fungal populations that filter pollution using biological processes.

Water Quantity Benefit: Special soil mixtures are chosen to allow water to soak into the ground. Roots break up the soil so water can soak into the ground more easily. By absorbing runoff from hard surfaces, rain gardens reduce flooding on neighboring property, reduce erosion in streams, and may recharge local groundwater.

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Drains 0.45 acres.

Where does this stormwater runoff come from? The stormwater at this site comes from one half of Cornwall Avenue between Champion and Flora Streets.

Where does this stormwater runoff flow next? Stormwater from this site flows through pipes down the alley between Cornwall Avenue and Unity Street to an outfall on Whatcom Creek.