Zoo breaks ground on new green infrastructure projects

The second stage of an ongoing green infrastructure project began this week at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo, designed to filter stormwater before it reaches the nearby Pequonnock River, and ultimately, Long Island Sound. Runoff from rainwater can wash pollutants into the river, including oil and chemicals from automobiles, bacteria, and other debris and sediment, potentially harming aquatic life. By installing two new rain gardens and more permeable pavers in the parking lot, the intent is to allow stormwater to migrate through the soil and be biologically treated.

The project is a partnership between Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo and Connecticut Fund for the Environment (CFE)/Save the Sound. The project was launched in April 2016 with the installation of one rain garden and a small segment of porous walkway. This second phase will increase the amount of stormwater that can be captured from the parking lot and allowed to percolate in the soil before releasing clean water into the Pequonnock River. The rain gardens’ and walkways prominent locations also serve as a learning laboratory and public education site for Zoo guests.

“We have rain gardens all around the Zoo grounds,” said Zoo Director Gregg Dancho. “Those gardens also become habitats, which we like. The gardens and permeable pavers are part of our focus on environmental conservation, caring about anything that affects plant, animal and human life.”   

On Wednesday, Oct. 18, Save the Sound co-hosted a green stormwater infrastructure workshop with the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) at the Zoo as part of the new construction phase. Participants learned the fundamentals of green stormwater infrastructure from NOFA accredited professional Trevor Smith, and gained hands-on experience.

Phase Two of the Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo project is supported by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Long Island Sound Futures Fund, Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation, Jeniam Foundation, and Newman’s Own Foundation.