Assessing the Hydrology of Indianapolis Rain Gardens

Drew Scott


The construction of rain gardens is being actively promoted by the city of Indianapolis. However, there has been little scientific evaluation of the effectiveness of city’s rain garden efforts. Five rain gardens and nearby control sites were selected for testing. To evaluate water infiltration, percolation tests were conducted on rain garden soils and nearby control soils. None of the rain gardens tested exhibited a measured percolation rate that was significantly faster than a control plot of similar soil composition and elevation. Four of five percolation rates of measured rain gardens were slower than control areas. Therefore, the current Indianapolis rain garden construction could not be used to prevent wastewater overflow (the mixture of rainwater and domestic sewage that enters local waterways during a sufficient rain event) since the percolation rate of the rain garden would be slower than the soil it would replace. This indicates that rain gardens should be constructed and monitored carefully.


Rain Gardens; Hydraulic Conductivity; Percolation; Wastewater Overflow

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