Students of Kingsland schools in Spring Valley will soon be learning how to design and construct rain gardens, build rain barrels and use native plants in landscaping. This spring, they will help transform the existing school courtyard into an outdoor classroom, complete with stormwater friendly gardens.

With the help of the Fillmore Soil Water Conservation District Stormwater Mini-Grant Program, the Kingsland Courtyard Committee was awarded a $2,180 grant to create rain gardens and other stormwater treatment features in the overall plan for the new outdoor classroom. High school students of the horticulture class will help with design features, and many other students will be involved with planting the gardens, testing water and keeping everything in good working condition.

The current drainage system in the courtyard was assessed, and although the two large surface intakes have helped keep the courtyard from flooding, this type of system can contribute to localized flooding and contamination when large volumes of water are delivered too quickly to Spring Valley Creek. The new designs will incorporate rain gardens around the intakes that will infiltrate stormwater before it reaches the drains.

The surface areas draining to the courtyard were then estimated using GIS mapping in the SWCD office. This is an important step to calculating the total volume of stormwater the site is collecting so the rain gardens and other features can be properly sized to handle as much stormwater as possible, said Jennifer Ronnenberg of the SWCD office. The students and staff of Kingsland will do a more detailed analysis of the site as part of their classes, and learn how to use this information for designing sustainable water management systems.

The Community Partners Stormwater Mini-Grant Program is a way for citizens and local organizations to access Minnesota Clean Water Funds. Fillmore County SWCD has received $45,000 in Clean Water Funds to be offered as mini-grants for projects that reduce or treat stormwater runoff to local streams. Mini-grants will provide financial or technical resources to establish urban stormwater projects that protect water resources.

For more information about the program, or to get an application, visit the Fillmore SWCD website at www.fillmoreswcd.org, or contact Ronnenberg at (507) 765-3878 x3.