Environment Erie

Success Stories

Iroquois Elementary School Rain Garden


Environment Erie is proud to announce the installation and unveiling of the second school rain garden of the summer at Iroquois Elementary School. The garden was designed by Urban Engineers and installed by Dahlkemper’s Landscaping just in time for the students to return back to school for the start of their 2013/2014 school year. By installing the rain garden with native plants we believe that the school grounds have begun to reconnect with nature that was lost during the recent construction of the elementary school. The rain garden occupies an area of 1,225 sq. ft. and with its depression characteristics it is capable of holding a volume 1,500 cu. ft. of storm water runoff. Considering that Erie receives an average of 42.77” of rain per year, this rain garden is designed to infiltrate 218,903 gallons of storm water runoff that may have otherwise reached our storm drains and precious waterways. To put this number into a different perspective, that would be 5,212 bathtubs of water, 10,945 10-minute showers, and 75 large concrete trucks. This garden will continue to be a project of the students in which they will gain ownership of the project and see it grow to its full capacity over the years. Environment Erie would like to thank the Freshwater Future Climate Grant and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative for making this project possible through their financial assistance. Environment Erie would also like to give a special thanks to our partners PA Sea Grant, Iroquois Elementary School’s faculty, students, and parents, Dahlkemper’s Landscaping, and Urban Engineers for without whom this project would not have been completed.

St. George School Rain Garden



Environment Erie is very pleased to announce the successful construction of a rain garden at St. George School, which can be seen from upper Peach Street. Paul J. Wurst Landscaping and Urban Engineers designed and installed the rain garden at St. George School to demonstrate a practical solution to reduce polluted storm-water runoff and share professional expertise with local businesses, organizations, and schools to help improve the water quality and encourage adoption of water-friendly practices, such as rain gardens. After the design and preparation of the 250 sq.ft rain garden by professionals with the assistance of Millcreek Township, students planted native plant species including Bee Balms, Milkweeds, Blue Joints, Summer Sweets, and Black-eyed Susans. Students presented the projects water quality benefits at a municipal meeting and invited local officials to the ribbon cutting ceremony. Our partners developed and installed a rain garden interpretive sign and produced a fact sheet to educate and encourage other residents to install rain gardens which is currently available on Millcreek Township’s website. Environment Erie would like to thank The League of Women Voters of PA Citizen Education Fund (LWVPA-CEF) and Water Resources Education Network (WREN) for supplying the grant that made this entire project possible. Environment Erie would also like to give a special thanks to our partners PA Sea Grant, St. George School, Millcreek Township, Paul J. Wurst Landscaping, and Urban Engineers for without whom this project would not have been completed.

Plastikos Rain Garden



Environment Erie’s Begin ANEW program, intended to reconnect neighborhoods with nature by restoring and retrofitting impervious surfaces with natural landscapes and green infrastructure, has just completed its second rain garden installation with Plastikos, Inc. The rain garden, which can be seen from the corner of Hawthorne Drive and Oliver Road, is intended to mitigate the extreme flooding that was occurring on the property after several large rainstorm events and to reduce the runoff caused by recent increased development upstream. Designed by Urban Engineers and installed by Meadville Land Services, the 2,000 sq. ft. rain garden is designed to hold a 2-year rainstorm event and features over 320 native perennials, 8 shrubs, and 5 trees. According to Ryan Katen, General Manager of Micro Mold Inc., and Engineering Manager of Plastikos, Inc., “Agreeing to install and help pay for the rain gardens fits in with our overall mission to have as little environmental impact as possible. Reducing stormwater with rain gardens on our property is one more way companies like ours can show leadership for protecting our important water resources.” Funding for this project was provided by Plastikos, Inc., Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, Royal Bank of Canada, and Freshwater Future.

Glenwood YMCA: Environment Erie Rain Garden Demonstration Project

Over 200 students from the Glenwood YMCA’s summer outdoor camp took part in planting a rain garden with 1,300 square feet of area. Roughly 100 native plant species including Black Eyed Susans, Coneflowers, and Ox Eye Sunflowers, were planted. The improved medians are located within the YMCA’s property and are visible to drivers along both 38th Street and Peach Street. Prior to the planting, the students participated in hands-on lessons regarding the harmful effects of stormwater runoff and inventoried the YMCA grounds for ideal “greenscaping” sites, erosion, and litter.

The rain gardens will not only add a visual landscaped feature to the Y’s parking lot that will help in beautifying the area, but will also help to mitigate stormwater issues. The deep roots from the native vegetation will aid in capturing excessive and polluted stormwater carrying sediment, car oil and grease, fertilizers, pesticides, bacteria from pet waste, and road salt, which will ensure that the water is filtered as it goes back into the ground rather than flowing over impermeable surfaces and directly entering into our waterways.

“We were specifically targeting the Presque Isle Bay Watershed with our efforts here,” said Jessica James, Program Director of Environment Erie. “The storm drains located specifically within the YMCA property will drain into Mill Creek, which subsequently release into the bay without being treated first. We have to protect our water resources so that Presque Isle Bay and Lake Erie remain great places for residents and visitors to recreate in.”

15 storm drain medallions labeled, "No Dumping, Drains to Lake" were added to the parking lot area on November 22, helping to inform thousands of Glenwood YMCA members to be conscious about what they let go down Erie's storm drains.

This project was made possible with funding from Environment Erie, the Glenwood YMCA, the Erie Community Foundation, Pennsylvania Sea Grant, Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, and Freshwater Future and the facilitation of Environment Erie in partnership with the YMCA.

  • Look for our upcoming rain garden projects at Urban Engineers and Iroquois Elementary School!