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2007–2010 Projects

Muncie Sanitary District, Muncie, Indiana

Project Description

The Muncie Sanitary District, Muncie, Indiana, project will investigate the effectiveness of rain gardens in reducing environmental health risks in Muncie of surface water runoff from storm and flood water.

Accomplishments

  • Water quality assessment: completed by Muncie Sanitary District, Bureau of Water Quality
  • Stormwater/flooding assessment: completed by Muncie Delaware Stormwater Management
  • Agency committee: Internal committee of participating entities formed
  • Community partnerships: Community leaders, neighborhood association, neighborhood service organizations, and residents participated. Ball State University students had high participation.
  • Informed/educated community: Educational materials developed, two neighborhood workshops held, and media coverage received communitywide and nationwide (publication in Forrester Press’s Stormwater Magazine).
  • Rain barrels: More than 150 barrels distributed in the Whitely Neighborhood. Another 750 barrels have been distributed throughout the rest of the community. Communitywide interest in the rain barrels has been huge.
  • Demonstration rain gardens: Five small demonstration rain gardens have been planted in McCulloch Park adjacent to the Whitely Neighborhood. These rain gardens will be used in the fall of year two to display garden designs. Citizens will be able to view these designs and plan their own rain gardens.
  • Community rain gardens: Community rain gardens will be planted in year two in the Whitely Neighborhood. Expectations of one garden have grown to the possibility of three through the generosity of partners within the community. Public neighborhood meetings have been used to gain input into the areas that most need flood/water quality intervention and a design committee has been formed to plan the garden design and installation.

Barriers

  • Lack of government trust in community: There is a real lack of government trust in this neighborhood. By attending monthly neighborhood meetings, offering community assistance in other manners and listening and following up on community complaints to the best of our ability has changed the attitude among the community. Public interest continues to grow.
  • Lack of faith in rain barrels/rain gardens: Some citizens thought the barrels and gardens were “ugly and weed patches” and did not believe they could make a difference. This lack of faith was curbed by faithfully attending community meetings, providing answers to citizens’ questions, offering alternative decoration for barrels, sharing photos of beautiful blooming rain gardens, and documenting improvements in water quantity.
  • More interest in year two and three activities: Although interest in the rain barrels has been huge throughout the larger community, the Whitely residents are more interested in the community gardens and individual gardens. Thus we have moved ahead with planning stages of year two and three activities to keep interest going in this first year.

What Is Next

  • Web site update: The Muncie Sanitary District Web site greatly lacks content for the Whitely Community Project. The content will be overhauled in fall 2008.
  • Planting of community rain gardens: Spring will bring the planting of the community rain gardens. As the gardens go in, we believe the project will get another media burst and community interest in the gardens will grow.
  • Year two goal: The primary goal of this project is to design and install rain gardens that reduce water quantity. Failure in this first step in the garden process will be a huge failure for the project. Design is key to ensure that these gardens function as intended.

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