Porter County Sheriff's Department


What's Happening at The Porter County Sheriff's Department

 

Solutions for a Better Environment

The Porter County Jail Alternative Storm water Demonstration Project

 

Photo by Matthew B. Byerly Community Reporter

Porter County Sheriff David Reynolds takes shovel in hand to assist Drainage Board Chairman Mark Reshkin in plantings outside the Porter County Jail. City and county officials gathered for a ceremonial planting to mark the start of the$125,000  Stimson Drain demonstration project. The project, cooperative between the city, county, and the DNR, will use the jail property to show alternative ways for handling stormwater runoff.

 

 

Photo by Matthew B. Byerly Community Reporter

DNR Representative Jenny Kintzele and Chief Deputy David Lain

 

Photo by Matthew B. Byerly Community Reporter

Porter County Commissioner and County Drainage Board member David Burrus

 

Thank you to Matthew Byerly and the

Valparaiso Chronicle for providing photos

for this event.

 

Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas and Chief Deputy Dave Lain

 

Chronicle

Plains replace Drains: Native plants, grasses to divert rain from drains, sewers

By Matthew B. Byerly

City and county officials gathered together at the Porter County Jail August 19 to plant the seeds of a new idea.  It was not a brainstorming session, nor one of the plethora of budget sessions currently going on throughout the region. Instead, it was a unique ceremonial groundbreaking for the Stimson Drain demonstration project. The $125,000 project will use the jail property to show alternative ways for handling stormwater runoff. Under a tent erected at the site due to threatening skies, the earth was tilled and a variety of native prairie perennial plantings were installed, representative of the plant varieties to be installed throughout the project.

The project is the unique brainchild of cooperation between Valparaiso City Engineer David Pilz and consulting firm J. F. New and Associates. Working through a study funded by the city Redevelopment Commission, goals were set to find “alternative best management practices” that would improve storm runoff quality before it reaches the aquifer tapped by the city water department.

“Most of us, when we think of drainage, we think of sewers and detention ponds,” said Pilz. “Our children will talk about rain gardens and mesic prairie depressions. It's a change in our culture, and I'm excited to get it started in this area. Hopefully, this idea blooms in other areas.”

The ceremony marks the start of a larger project funded through a series of matching grants from the Lake Michigan Coastal Program, funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration administered by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Specifically, the demonstration/study planting at the jail focuses on the type of sandy soil found in the Stimson Drain area south of US 30. Underground plastic ‘rain-store’ columns will help collect and channel roof runoff to the demonstration gardens. Other parts of the project involve channeling water from the parking lot into graded swells that will have water-absorbing native plants. Wetlands, rain gardens and other features are all designed to hold and treat the stormwater on the jail site rather than releasing it into the Stimson Drain, an area plagued by stormwater flooding in the past.

Stormwater Management Board President Mark Reshkin hopes that the project, despite a limited scope, will speed development of techniques to manage water flow in areas with silty or clay soils. Citing a recent report that said US population will exceed 400 million within 50 years, Reshkin said that would mean covering much more land with buildings and pavement, necessitating creative ways of dealing with stormwater.

“This is a wonderful start, but we need to continue to expand our vision,” he said. “Much of the land around here that is built on for residential expansion is on clay, not sand, and our work isn’t done until we can handle both hand in hand with the environment.”

County Commissioner David Burrus and Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas also each made brief remarks during the ceremony, focusing on the importance of cooperation across governmental entity and party lines. Both men cited the vision of Pilz and the cooperation from the DNR as tremendous and important to the future of the greater community.

DNR representative Jenny Kintzele shared officials excitement and optimism.

“This truly is a step up from the normal,” she said. “I wish all the projects we helped to fund and start were so hands-on and progressive. Valparaiso is really a community with a vision, and to see the cooperation between the city and the county for the benefit of both is truly rewarding.”

Kintzele also praised the public educational opportunity surrounding the project. Pamphlets describing the project are available for people interested in using the techniques in other areas, and a sign will be placed at the site, explaining the various features and showing where they are located.

After remarks were through, officials each took turns playing in the dirt, often to the good-natured chides of their colleagues. As Sheriff David Reynolds was preparing to plant some marsh milkweed, Chief Deputy David Lain chimed in that the plant looked similar to cannabis (marijuana). Similarly, as Burrus dug a hole, Costas joked that the planting was above a Northern Indiana Public Service Company power line. Both remarks were met with laughs.

Plantings from the ceremony were only temporary, however. They will be removed and replanted after J. F. New and Associates complete regrading work for the project, which began August 23. The firm will continue to revisit and maintain the property as the plantings develop into a full prairie scheme over the next three years. Pilz said that though a consulting firm is handling initial plantings and maintenance, he could see the city horticulture department, a branch of the Valparaiso Parks, wishing to watch the project closely and aid in harvesting seeds for use in other plantings. Meanwhile, the city will continue to track the differences in runoff collection by watching the same sites earmarked for the preliminary study, to provide a comparison between past and future runoff collections.

“This is an ongoing project,” said Pilz. “We are dealing with a living piece of engineering, and I think it’s a great step.”

 

Sowing stormwater control

VALPARAISO: Native plants, grasses to divert rain from drains, sewers.
BY PHIL WIELAND
Times Staff Writer

This story ran on nwitimes.com on Friday, August 20, 2004 12:04 AM CDT

VALPARAISO - It probably will take a couple of years, but the city's stormwater management demonstration project is designed to show that it can be both functional and beautiful.
With the sky looking like it might at any moment test the water-absorbing characteristics of both the native plants and the people planting them, city and county officials gathered at the Porter County Jail to kick off the city project. But the real stars to watch were the prairie dropseed, sweet black-eyed Susan, butterfly weed, blue flag iris, marsh milkweed, lobelia, cardinal flowers and soft rushes.

Those represented the native vegetation that will be planted all around the jail property in swales and detention areas to absorb rainwater runoff from the parking area, the roof and the grounds.

The project is designed to demonstrate alternative methods for managing stormwater in the type of sandy soil found in the Stimson Drain area south of U.S. Route 30.
"Most of us, when we think of drainage, we think of sewers and detention ponds," City Engineering Director David Pilz said during Thursday's planting ceremony. "Our children will talk about rain gardens and mesic prairie depressions. It's a change in our culture, and I'm excited to get it started in this area. I'm hoping it takes on and blooms in other areas."
Mayor Jon Costas said Culver's Restaurant on LaPorte Avenue is one example of the use of water-absorbing vegetation that is both beautiful and functional. Costas said the city will have other opportunities for using such creative methods of managing runoff, such as Vale Parkway, the extension of Vale Park Road between Valparaiso and Campbell streets.
Stormwater Management Board President Mark Reshkin said, "From this we will develop techniques to manage the water flow in sandy areas, but that won't be the end of it. We will have to do similar research to find the techniques for handling it in clay areas."
Citing a recent report that predicted the U.S. population will exceed 400 million within 50 years, Reshkin said that will mean covering much more of the land with buildings and pavement necessitating the use of more ways of dealing with stormwater.
The event was not without its lighter moments.
As Pilz assisted County Commissioner David Burrus in digging a hole for a lobelia plant, Costas joked that was the location of a Northern Indiana Public Service Company power line.
As Sheriff David Reynolds was preparing to plant something, his Chief Deputy David Lain said, "One of those plants looks like a cannabis (marijuana). Put that in."
J. F. New & Associates, the consultants hired to design and construct the demonstration project, begin the actual grading and planting Monday. Most of the work will be done in the next few weeks but maintenance and replantings will continue for the next year or two.
The project is being funded with a $100,000 grant from the Lake Michigan Coastal Program of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. The city's Redevelopment Commission is providing the $25,000 in matching funds for the grant.
Educational brochures describing the project are available for people interested in using the techniques and a sign will be erected at the northwest corner of the jail property explaining the various features and showing where they are located.

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