Monday, December 12, 2011

Good Soaking Rain

The timing of this morning's rain couldn't be better for our new plants. I stopped by this morning to check it out. The water is percolating into the ground well. The curb cuts are capturing water from the north side of the street. I wish the street had been graded with a little more crown - because some of the surface water drains away from our swale. We need to make sure that when this street is resurfaced, a better crown is established.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Installation Complete!

December 10, 2011
Bob's crew from the zoo started the day early by placing the shrubs and grasses along the swale. The zoo has been very generous in their support of this project.
Special thanks to Bill Harris and his Coca-Cola crew of volunteers (about 30 strong) for doing the final planting this morning. It was a special treat to see the families out in support. I saw mostly happy faces. Everything was completed in about 1 1/2 hours - about half the time originally estimated.
The mulch provided the finishing touch.
Because of the early completion, we decided to just hold various interview and photo-ops (instead of the planned ceremony). I look forward to reading articles from Folio Weekly and The Resident, as well as seeing interviews conducted by Riverkeeper, Channel 4 News and First Coast News.
Next up - I will be meeting with COJ maintenance personnel to review with them our approach for the initial maintenance. This project is more than demonstrating LID technology - a critical aspect will be the demonstration of how to maintain these systems.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Lasalle Street BioSwale. Superb design and installation coordination efforts.

Bob Chabot and Chris Dailey had their crew from the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens out yesterday across the Lasalle Street Bioswale site, shaping the swale and planting 3"  DBH cypress trees, Taxodium distichum.

I was by the site with my family returning borrowed books from the adjacent library and wanting to see how the innovative Low Impact Development (LID)  project was coming together.

With open heart surgery less than ten days in the past, I was sore, but also excited.  The 'mini' ecosystem's elevations had been dug and to my 'biologist' eye, mimicked perfectly nature's own elevations and flow contours one would expect to see in a riverine swampy creek.

Typically, one does not encounter many straight lines in nature.  Yet many roadside ditches and drains are miles and miles of linear geometry, repeated over and  over again until from a visual  perspective have become no longer a living, pollutant and nutrient removal system, but just part of the road itself.

Lasalle Street bioswale's design mimics what I describe as "patterned randomness", a formal planting with no  perceived formality, a drought tolerant ecosystem appearing lush and tropical at times and an Urban Core landscape amenity serving to clean NOx and POx's from the air and water, pumping   oxygen back into the air, sequestering carbon, providing habitat - both communal and forage for local pollinators, birds and wildlife, and finally creating a sense of place, a reconnect back to nature.

Curb cuts are placed into the sidewalls and will allow for street level runoff to filter into the ground, replenishing shallow groundwater levels and attenuating flooding volumes.

Saturday will bring crowds of local volunteers to the  project for planting of the native shrubs and grasses, the dwarf yaupon holly, Ilex vomitoria, and the pink muhly grass, Muhlenbergia capillaris and finally the sand cord grass, Spartina bakeri.

Mulch will be applied, the  plantings watered initially watered in (the bioswale will survive on nature provided irrigation such as rainwater, groundwater, dew and fog, and the plants will be allowed to settle in before winter's arrival here in the deep south.

Progress Photos

Excavation work on Monday (12/5):

Curb work on Wednesday (12/7):
The metal base for the sign:
Fine grading on Thursday (12/8):

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Construction Started

Petticoat-Schmitt started construction on Thursday (12/1) with the curb cuts and mobilization of equipment. The roots from the old trees are extensive and have required careful excavation to ensure they don't damage the surrounding pavement and underground utilities. Fortunately, we are partnered with an excellent contractor. The timing is also good for them because their adjacent road project, San Marco Boulevard, is suspended during the holidays.
Bob Chabot will be on site Monday to shape the swales. The concrete for the middle curb cut and the back of flumes will be placed on Tuesday. We will also place the concrete for the sign foundation. Trees will arrive on Wednesday.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Permit Approved

With great effort on everyone's part we got the right-of-way permit approved Tuesday morning (yesterday). Excavation of the swales will start Thursday morning (tomorrow) under the direction of Bob Chabot. The tree protection barricade (shown here) was installed to make sure we don't do anything that will compromise the remaining live oak.

Unfortunately, one of our integral team members, Kevin Songer was hospitalized this week. He is expected to make full recovery, and will be in our prayers. Without Kevin's passion, this project would not have gone this far. Thankfully he set us up very well with a plan and the materials so that we can complete the work. But we won't let him off the hook for the maintenance! We can't wait to have you back!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Bioswale - Turning a stormwater berm into a nature based treatment swale

The mound of dirt shown on the right side of the sidewalk blocked stormwater flow
Lasalle Street's bioswale, as noted in the previous post by Doug Skiles, will address stormwater and flooding issues.

Prior to the bioswale project, the median lying between the San Marco Library's sidewalk and Lasalle Street blocked all stormwater flowing from the library's roof and lawn and funneled the runoff to a low area adjacent the main pedestrian crossing in front of the library.

As you can see, the elevation of the dirt creates a berm of approximately right inches tall in some places, blocking water flow.

However the new design will have an elevation profile lower than the elevation of the sidewalk's edge, allowing runoff to enter the swale for attenuation and treatment.

Bioswale and rain garden science is based upon biomimicry - imitating nature's successes.

Excavation is imminent and plants are scheduled for delivery soon.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Better Drainage

One of the many benefits of the Lasalle Street Bioswale will be improved drainage. As you can see in this photo, there are many sections of the street that hold water. This was taken the morning after an evening storm. One of the flumes was placed specifically to capture the standing water on the right side. The beauty of a retrofit project like this is that we can solve past mistakes.

Bio-swale landscape

We have decided not to amend the soil for the planting as the native plants we are using thrive in poor soils, and to discourage weed growth and keep maintenance down. We are also going to strike a balance in spacing the plants so they have enough breathing room but the garden will still have a full finished look. We will also put a thick layer of pine-straw mulch down. This will create an incredibly rich habitat for native wildlife including birds, bugs and other micro-organisms as it collects and cleans storm-water.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Creating a Low Impact Development Bioswale, Urban Sustainability

Proposed Lasalle Street Bioswale (Low Impact Development)
Am amazing project is taking shape, thanks to many in the Jacksonville area including; St. Johns River Keeper, Coca-Cola, City of Jacksonville, San Marco Preservation Society, Councilwoman Lori Boyer, Greenscape and others.

Follow our efforts here from the removal of diseased and dying, yet magnificent old live oaks through the design and permitting process, installation and maintenance.  We want to share findings, successes and learning opportunities.

Bob Chabot and Chris Dailey of the Jacksonville Zoo discuss soil preparation
Bob Chabot and Chris Dailey examine the site, strategizing as to the best approach for grading, soil amendments, plant staging and layout, and a host of other issue resolution.
The future bioswale area contains large roots, urban soils and presents challenges
 The bioswale site will collect stormwater from the library roof and site as well as other adjacent impervious areas and provide both attenuation and water quality treatment.
Bioswale construction will incorporate existing utility systems into the layout
Our documentation will hopefully provide a basis for future similar low impact development best management practices for Jacksonville and surrounding areas.

Be sure to follow the blog for our frequent updates.