World Environment Day: Action and Awareness 

by | Jun 5, 2024 | Environmental, Thought Leadership

It is World Environment Day! You are probably thinking “What does that mean? Wasn’t it just Earth Day? What is so special about World Environment Day?”

Well, it’s a day celebrated annually on June 5th to bring awareness and encourage action for the protection of the environment. This day is supported by many non-governmental organizations, businesses, government entities, and represents the primary United Nations outreach day supporting the environment. So, I am here to bring awareness and encourage action!

What is McClure Doing?

As a stormwater engineer at McClure, every day we are taking action to help our local watersheds and environments. It is actually the main reason I went into engineering instead of research. I wanted to be more of a boots-on-the-ground person, getting projects in place that impact the environment on a daily basis.

We love to design solutions that focus on water quality. These best management practices (BMPS) range from permeable pavers, infiltration trenches, bioswales, wet ponds, tree infiltration trenches, and filter strips.

Two of my favorite practices, bioretention cells and stormwater wetlands, happen to be projects that we are working on currently.

Stormwater Wetlands

Stormwater wetlands are designed to tackle the quality and quantity of stormwater runoff. Absorption, evapotranspiration, and outlet limitations reduce stormwater rates and volumes. Settling, biochemical reactions, and plant absorption accomplish pollutant removal. They should be located at a continuous base flow or high-water table to help in sustaining a permanent pool of water to support aquatic vegetation. Microtopography is formed by meticulous grading to establish a series of shallow and deep-water areas, thereby extending the necessary flow length through the procedure.

At McClure, we use our engineering skills to design and optimize these wetlands and assemble plan sets to be constructed. Below is a rendering of our most recent design.

Stormwater Wetland

Bioretention Systems

Bioretention systems are composed of shallow landscaped depressions that temporarily hold and readily infiltrate runoff. These systems encompass both rain gardens and bioretention cells. A rain garden depends entirely on soils with high percolation rates. Bioretention cells, on the other hand, usually consist of a rock chamber, subdrain, and modified soil mix. In these cells, stormwater runoff collected in the top layer is filtered through surface vegetation, mulch, pervious soil, and then briefly stored in a stone aggregate base layer. The Water Quality Volume (WQv) is drained into the underlying soils or to an outlet via a perforated pipe subdrain.

These systems can function either offline or online. They are crafted using a variety of plants that may encompass grasses, blooming perennials, bushes, or trees. A grass filter strip or grass swale along the perimeter serves as the first line of sediment capture in the integrated upstream treatment process. Below is a rendering of our most recent design.

Bioretention System

What can you do? 

I understand not everyone can be involved in designing these regional solutions to water quality concerns in communities. However, did you know there are things you can do at your own home to promote water quality?

In the industry, we call it rain-scaping. Let me tell you what I did at my property to give you some ideas for your own. First, my house is a small lot, so you don’t need a lot of space to make a difference. I also started with a blank canvas at a new construction home. At my house I planted native trees, native grasses and forbs, and completed soil quality restoration.Swamp White Oak - Iowa Native

Plant a Tree

I know it’s cliché, but planting a tree is great for the environment and it is so easy! There are more benefits to trees than just shade and oxygen. Trees reduce stormwater runoff by capturing and storing rainfall in the canopy and releasing water into the atmosphere through evapotranspiration. In addition, tree roots and leaf litter create soil conditions that promote the infiltration of rainwater into the soil. The more infiltration we create the less runoff of pollutants we have going into our streams and open water.

 

Plant Native Grasses and Forbs

Cone Flower - Iowa NativeTalk about a pollinator magnet! If you do not have the space (or you do not own a yard) it is so easy and cheap to plant natives. They attract all kinds of wildlife like butterflies, bumble bees, and native birds. They also promote infiltration. I am excited that the natives in our landscaping are popping up and attracting wildlife already. Two of my favorites for Iowa are little bluestem and purple coneflower.

Soil Quality Restoration

This one, admittedly, is a lot harder but this has made such an impact on my yard. My yard has essentially become a sponge and I would recommend this to anyone that wants a prettier grass yard or that wants bang for their buck on infiltration. Soil Quality Restoration (SQR) reduces compaction, increases pore space, improves organic matter content, and re-establishes populations of soil dwelling organisms (microbes, worms, insects, etc.) on soils interfered with in construction. To complete this, you simply double aerate your yard, spread out an inch of compost, and water twice a day for about a week.

Happy World Environment Day!  

Take some time to reflect on what you can do to help the environment and reach out to McClure’s Environmental team if you have any water quality projects or ideas you need help getting established!

Kate Barnes, PE

Kate Barnes, PE

Kate is a licensed professional engineer with 6 years of engineering experience related to stormwater management and flood mitigation. Kate’s experience includes hydrologic and hydraulic analysis and design related to urban and rural stream restoration, stormwater wetlands, wet and dry detention, permeable pavers, citywide drainage and flood mitigation studies, levees and pump stations, and storm sewer infrastructure. Kate’s role in projects includes computer modeling, preparing and reviewing plan sets, preparing bid documents and construction specifications, construction observation, and permitting. You can contact Kate at kbarnes@mcclurevision.com.

Learn More

Learn more about McClure’s Environmental services or contact us at info@mcclurevision.com.