The Still River in Winsted, Connecticut, is a tributary of the Farmington River. It faces environmental challenges from polluted stormwater runoff and is listed as impaired waters by CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP)’s 2016 Integrated Water Quality Report. Our project goal is to conduct stormwater pollution outreach and education and to install Best Management Practice demonstration projects (rain gardens) to reduce stormwater pollution. Green infrastructure projects address the water-related challenges unique to urban areas through implementation of inexpensive and simple landscape modifications that provide an environmentally sound solution to stormwater runoff.

One of our achievements has been our newly found partnership and collaboration with the Town of Winchester. Through meetings with the Town Manager, Director of Public Works, and local high school teachers, we have helped facilitate a larger goal for a Town-owned public space. During our initial meetings in the fall of 2019, we explained the need for stormwater reduction via the use of green infrastructure (rain gardens) as well as the importance of educating the community and students – while also providing a beautiful natural landscape for all to enjoy. The Town was very happy with this plan, and supportive of learning about invasive plant removals. They chose a location of us to use for the rain garden installations, and we inspired them to create a small park surrounding the planned rain gardens. In this way, the Town and FRWA are able to provide the rain garden and pollinator garden with educational signage. 

The physical sites will capture polluted stormwater runoff and prevent it from flowing into the tributaries of the Wild and Scenic Farmington River. Combined with the knowledge of local residents of how to maintain your lawn without using chemicals and pesticides, and other actions: These actions include information on how to properly dispose hazardous of waste and pet waste, checking and eliminated oil leaks from cars, limiting the amount of hard surfaces and increasing the amount of natural areas, disconnecting downspouts and allowing runoff to soak into natural areas (away from building foundations) as opposed to flowing into storm drains and/or sewers or causing basement flooding. Other beneficial impacts are removing invasive plants to allow the natural, native plants to become established. Planting native plants within the gardens also provide habitat for wildlife including birds, pollinators, and beneficial insects. The environment and the local communities benefit from this project now and into the future.

Native plants we planted this May include: Sheffield hybrid chrysanthemum, Blue cloud lesser calamint, Purpurea coneflower, Joe pyeweed, Goldstrum black-eyed susan, Marshalls delight bee balm, Tussock sedge, White turtlehead, Baby joe pyeweed, Gerald darby blue flag iris, Soft rush, Cardinal flower, Ostrich fern, Cinnamon fern, Christmas fern, Solomon seal, Carolina hornbeam, Walkers low catmint, yarrow, Butterfly weed, Swamp milkweed, Vibrant dome aster, Moonbeam tickseed, Hot lips turtlehead, Marsh marigolds, and Interrupted fern. Work continues this June!

Learn more about our rain garden projects at frwa.org/rain-gardens

This project is supporting with funding from the National Park Foundation through the generous support of the Coca-Cola Company, and the Werth Family Foundation.