Wilton rain garden intended to fight erosion and E. coli

  • Patric Jackson and his team of developers finish day one of installing the rain garden at Cooley Park on Main Street. —STAFF PHOTO BY JOSH LACAILLADE

  • Patrick Jackson and Michele Decoteau are in the process of building a rain garden to combat an erosion and water-quality problem in Wilton. —STAFF PHOTO BY JOSH LACAILLADE

  • Patrick Jackson and Michele Decoteau start by excavating a straight line through Cooley Park to start the planting process. —STAFF PHOTO BY JOSH LACAILLADE

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 8/8/2022 1:34:57 PM
Modified: 8/8/2022 1:31:40 PM

A University of New Hampshire student is teaming up with Wilton residents to build a rain garden that will prevent erosion and combat a potential water problem.

Environmental engineering student Patrick Jackson, 19, of Nashua has been planning to build a rain garden at Main Street’s Cooley Park all summer as Wilton’s stormwater intern. On Sunday, Aug. 7, Jackson and his team of developers embarked on their mission to beautify Wilton and address a water quality problem involving E. coli contamination.

According to Michele Decoteau, former land-use administrator for Wilton, E.coli is currently polluting the water runoff from the town hall’s roof and drainage pipes, and eventually the town’s two main waterways, the Souhegan River and the Stony Brook. Decoteau said E. coli has made its way into Wilton’s water systems.

“E. coli is a problem. It’s coming from animal waste, humans with failing septics and a dense population,” said Decoteau.

Decoteau also said sediment-filled runoff causes erosion and damage to the foundation of the town hall. In accordance with a municipal sewer system permit signed by the Town of Wilton with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Jackson and developers are in the process of building a 12- by 30-foot rain garden along the slope of  Cooley Park. The garden will incorporate flowers such as purple lobelias, red geraniums and orange tiger lilies to absorb the stormwater runoff and filter the water containing E. coli. 

On Sunday, Jackson and his team of developers first excavated a straight line through Cooley Park to lay down mulch and the plants. Next, the developers assembled a small rock formation that will allow stormwater pollutants to be filtrated at the opening of the 14-foot drainage pipe attached to Town Hall.

Decoteau said sustainability projects like a rain garden are simple and cheap solutions to improving water quality.

“Green infrastructure isn’t expensive. People can do this at home and it makes a big difference,” said Decoteau.

The team of developers was given $500 from taxpayers to fund the project. So far, the team is close to $100 under budget, a win according to Jackson. With day one in the books, Jackson said he hopes to inspire others to protect the environment, one project at a time.

“It’s a testament to people to make an impact on the environment… to show people how easy it is to make a big difference,” said Jackson.

The rain garden is expected to be finished no later than Friday, Aug. 12.

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