Newark taking steps to protect pollution-gobbling landscape beds
January 12, 2017
NEWARK -- As the white snow swirls around the Licking County Courthouse this winter, the city is thinking green.
The city has to [be] especially careful when it removes snow and ice from downtown sidewalks in an area around the courthouse square, where a utility and street-construction project progresses. That's because the project, along with new sewer lines and streets, includes bioswales — landscaping beds designed to help filter storm water. So when it comes to keeping the sidewalks around the square clear this winter, salt is off the table.
Though they look like simple plant beds, the bioswales are designed to filter sediment, metals and bacteria from storm water, said Roger Loomis, Newark utilities superintendent. The use of the green infrastructure has helped the city secure funding for the nearly $20 million project.
The structures, about 5 to 6 feet deep, contain a fabric mat, 2 feet of gravel, a soil mixture and mulch, with plants throughout. Storm water is channeled from streets into the bioswales, where the vegetation uses the nutrients from the water for growth. The water filters through to catch basins and eventually, to streams and rivers.
The bioswales are expected to capture about 70 percent of storm water and reduce pollutants by 20 to 40 percent, Loomis said.
“We’re not just planting these plants for things to look good; we’re planting them for part of a storm water program,” he said.
For the bioswales to do their job effectively, the plants need to survive the winter months. So, the less salt exposure, the better, Loomis said.
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