Less pavement for a healthier Johnson Creek!

Written by Monica Hescheles and Elizabeth Brosig

The full crew of volunteers, Depave crew leaders, Depave Staff and JCWC staff pose in front of the pry bar tools, ready to start removing pavement from the Stonebridge Apartments. Photo taken by photographer, Elle James.
After volunteers pried loose the pre-cut squares of asphalt, Depave Crew leaders worked together to load it all into drop boxes. Photo by Elle James.

In the midst of a wet spring, the weather was perfect for the first stage of implementation for a stormwater retrofit project at the Stonebridge Apartments, located off of 92nd and bordering Johnson Creek. Over fifty volunteers, board members and staff from JCWC, and Depave came together to remove pavement from three sections of the parking lot on Saturday April 8th. After a brief introduction, stretching circle, and demo, volunteers spread out and got busy. Utilizing very large pry bars, volunteers worked together to loosen the pre-cut asphalt squares. Next, they loaded up larger pieces onto a hand dolly and smaller pieces into a wheelbarrow and wheeled them into a large drop box that was later hauled away. Despite Depave’s dialed system, volunteers were hard at work and everyone was excited to enjoy well-deserved chicken and vegan burritos from Mixteca, a local restaurant. 

Large pry bars are used to loosen the pre-cut asphalt squares. Photo by Elle James.

All of this hard work is to help reduce flooding at the apartment complex and improve water quality going into Johnson Creek. The areas that volunteers removed pavement from are being turned into rain gardens which will capture stormwater that runs off of the pavement. Stonebridge Apartments is a low income senior housing complex and each year stormwater floods the walkways to their front doors. The rain gardens will capture this water before it can reach the building walkways and allow the water to slowly infiltrate into the soil. Stormwater runoff also collects a variety of pollutants, including oil, tire particles, and trash. By collecting the stormwater in rain gardens, these pollutants are filtered out of the water before entering our waterways. There are many locations in the Johnson Creek watershed where stormwater is collected in stormwater facilities and piped directly to Johnson Creek, bringing all of the pollutants picked up on the way. The Council is looking to continue installing rain gardens throughout the watershed to help reduce pollutants entering the creek. 

A huge thank you to everyone that came out to help break ground on this project. If you are interested in being involved, we will be planting these rain gardens this fall. Keep an eye out for the volunteer event announcement!

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