Research Proves Effectiveness of Rain Gardens

Ishan Shukla, a young volunteer from Milton, is looking for ways to keep our streams cleaner.

Ishan and Aarti Shukla

Ishan and Aarti Shukla

Ishan Shukla has been working hard this spring on some follow up projects to his earlier experiments on water quality.  Ishan just finished his sophomore year at Milton High School and has been an avid researcher on all things water quality.

His latest work includes experiments on using rain gardens to clean up water pollution.  Rain gardens are designed to allow runoff to filter through soil and plants and be treated naturally.  They keep harmful pollution found in runoff from making it to our streams and rivers.  They are built by digging a shallow depression and planting with native species of perennials.

rain garden from web 2

A rain garden captures and treats runoff before it pollutes water bodies. Photo credit Rain Dog Designs, Gig Harbor, WA

Ishan performed experiments to test the removal of bacteria (E. coli) from water using a model of a rain garden.  His experiments showed removal of about 50% of the bacteria from the water!  View his slides on his latest research project here.

Bacteria is a significant problem for the Neponset River.  High levels of E. coli are found in many locations along the river and tributary streams, especially when it rains.  You can see results of our monthly water sampling around the watershed here.  High bacteria levels mean that there is a health risk for anyone using the water for fishing, boating, or swimming.   During rain storms bacteria and other pollution are carried into the Neponset by runoff. Runoff from streets, parking lots, sidewalks, roofs, and other hard surfaces makes its way untreated into the Neponset, carrying anything on the street with it.

Ishan’s results help prove the point that rain gardens can make a difference for our water quality.  To learn more about rain gardens and how to build one in your yard, see the information at this link.

To see some of Ishan’s earlier work click here and here.

One response to “Research Proves Effectiveness of Rain Gardens”

  1. Deborah Reid says:

    I really appreciate this research and information. Will you continue to monitor for E coli to see if the effectiveness decreases over time.

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