Raingardens for schools in North Lanarkshire

This months blog is written by Emilie Wadsworth from CSGNT and Neil McLean from Stantec, two of the partners working on the School Raingardens project in North Lanarkshire we showcased over a yer ago. The project has had to be paused due to the restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, but is ready and raring to start up once again when able.

Over the last few years, Britain has seen some very heavy rainfall and intense storms, resulting in devastating floods. We all learnt about the water cycle at school, and how rain sinks into the ground, travelling slowly through the soil to rivers and eventually the sea. What we perhaps didn’t learn about is how this changes in our towns and cities where the ground is impermeable. The rain can’t sink into soil over the hard surfaces such as road, roof and footpaths, so it flows quickly into drains where it is moved, again very quickly, out into the rivers. This means that a lot of water is being pushed into the river system all at one go, making flooding worse. Dredging rivers isn’t the answer, as this just moves the problem instead of solving it. What we need to do, is slow the flow. Hold the water back, slowly releasing it, like a natural system would do. This is where Raingardens come in. 

Raingardens are areas of plants specifically designed to receive rainfall and runoff and slow down water. They can help solve small areas of flooding, such as in a garden or car park. When lots of them are used, they can reduce the severity and impact of flooding on a larger area. They are also nice to look at, are good for biodiversity and can help reduce pollution.

North Lanarkshire Council have started an innovative project looking at primary schools in their area that either already suffer from flooding problems or are likely to in the near future. So far, five primary schools have had raingarden features designed around the playground, which will hopefully be installed before the end of the summer (coronavirus restrictions allowing). The project was run in partnership with CSGNT, Cumbernauld Living Landscapes and water engineers at Stantec. The partners ran education sessions with pupils in the school, teaching them about raingardens and then working with them to identify problem areas in the grounds and finally come up with ideas on what the raingardens should be. The schools will play an important role in looking after the raingardens and will be provided with information and resources to do that, and to use the raingardens for outdoor learning in the future.