Ukiah High SchoolUkiah Unified School District

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The Power of Partnership, Innovation and Learning

DROPS Rain Gardens & Bioretention Basins at UHS

What is DROPS?

  • Drought Response Outreach Program for Schools (DROPS) was a grant from the State Water Resources Control Board to create stormwater pollution prevention projects at schools in California.
  • Ukiah Unified School District (UUSD) was one of 32 school districts statewide and the only district in the Russian River watershed to receive this grant.
  • Ukiah High installed rain gardens and bioretention basins, infrastructure that will help protect water quality in Orrs Creek and the Russian River.
  • The Ukiah High DROPS project was a partnership of UUSD and the Mendocino County Resource Conservation District (MCRCD).

 

What Happened at Ukiah High?

 
In the summer and fall of 2018, Ukiah High installed:
  • 7,789 square feet of rain gardens on campus,
  • 8,170 square feet of bioretention basins in the parking lot, and
  • A 5,000-gallon rainwater collection system for the Agriculture Department’s aquaponics system and for watering livestock during the summer.
 
The project engaged Ukiah High students in real-world environmental and engineering work. Ukiah High students conducted water quality monitoring, performed litter inventories, wrote news stories, helped with creek cleanups, created a mural and a Powerpoint presentation, and engaged in peer-to-peer education about stormwater and watershed health.

 

What are Rain Gardens and Bioretention Basins?

  • Rain gardens and bioretention basins are engineered vegetated areas that mimic the natural function of a grassy or forested area by absorbing and filtering rain runoff, also called stormwater.
  • Hard surfaces, such as cement and asphalt, shed rain quickly, letting it gain velocity and pick up pollutants, such as oil, gas, sediment, cigarette butts and plastic wrappers. Unless intercepted, the stormwater enters streams and rivers via the storm drain system, eroding stream banks, contaminating drinking water sources, and poisoning wildlife.
  • The work happens underground! Rain gardens and bioretention basins look like ordinary landscaping, but they are 3-5 feet deep and composed of carefully constructed layers of soil and rock. The water is cleaned of pollutants mechanically and biologically.
  • The Ukiah High rain gardens and bioretention basins will capture and clean 4.5 million gallons of stormwater each year!