News : Bring on the rain

Feb 22, 2013

February 22, 2013

From Portsmouth Herald

By Jim Cavan

The last two decades have seen a growth in the eco-conscious application known as the rain garden.

Rain gardens are planted depressions that help filter elements and contaminants out of water runoff from man-made surfaces, curbing the amount of pollutants reaching aquifers, rivers and other water sources.

Since their first mass application in the early 1990s, rain gardens have become an increasingly common avenue for property owners dealing with excess rainwater. They are cheaper than more complex storm-management systems and lend desirable aesthetics.

"The main purpose of the rain garden is to effectively treat and purify the water before it goes back into the aquifer, and to hold off surges of water from storms," said Shannon Alther of Portsmouth-based TMS Architects. "But the vegetation itself can also add a nice visual element to the site, and can help attract things like birds and butterflies that can add to its look and feel."

Lately, TMS has been part of a number of residential and commercial projects involving rain gardens.

In 2011, TMS partnered with Altus Engineering of Portsmouth to lend its design expertise in the construction of a large rain garden at Regeneration Park, a business campus located at the former Toyota dealership on Route 1 near the Portsmouth/Rye border. Thanks in part to the rain garden, the park reduced the amount of pavement by 16,000 square feet, while allowing filtered water back in to the wetlands next to the complex.

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