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UT faculty launches rain garden project in North Knoxville

Construction is likely to begin this fall and continue through next spring. / (University of...
Construction is likely to begin this fall and continue through next spring. / (University of Tennessee)(WVLT)
Published: Nov. 25, 2019 at 2:23 PM EST
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Three UT faculty members will work with a group of Knoxville homeowners to install rain gardens in an effort to enhance local conservation efforts.

The rain gardens will be installed in the Edgewood Park neighborhood and help residents who live in flood-prone areas of the city.

Lisa Reyes Mason, associate professor and Ph.D. program director in the College of Social Work; Jon Hathaway, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering; and Andrea Ludwig, associate professor of ecological engineering, are overseeing the rain garden project.

To fund the project the group received a $7,000 grant from the Alliance of Women Philanthropists and $1,000 from UT's Office of Community Engagement and Outreach.

Mason said funding will pay for 10 gardens and residents will be responsible for their garden's upkeep once it's installed.

“Rain gardens are a form of green infrastructure increasingly used to sustainably manage urban stormwater,” Mason said. “In residential areas, rain gardens fed by a home’s downspout can reduce water damage on the homeowner’s property, enhance the quality of life through improved green space, and contribute to overall watershed health through reduced stormwater runoff.”

Rain gardens have become increasingly popular, but are often not readily available in urban areas.

The Hydrolunteers, a group of graduate students mentored by Hathaway and Ludwig who volunteer on water-related projects, created the concept for the garden and pitched it to Knox County and Knox County water officials.

After the project was approved Faculty, student volunteers, neighborhood residents and county employees began working on a demonstration garden at the North Knoxville Branch of the Knox County Library in the heart of the Edgewood Park neighborhood.

Interested homeowners can apply to have a rain garden built on their property. To be eligible, applicants must be homeowners in Edgewood Park, at least 18-years-old and their property must be suitable for a garden.

Construction of the gardens is likely to begin this fall and continue through next spring.

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