Senior Inquiry in Geography

Document Type

Student Paper

Publication Date



Geographic Information Sciences | Place and Environment | Spatial Science | Sustainability | Urban Studies and Planning | Water Resource Management

Description, Abstract, or Artist's Statement

With new stormwater management regulations, cities are looking for strategies to reduce urban runoff, and rain gardens are one of several strategies that capture runoff and encourage infiltration and evaporation. In doing so, pollution from runoff is mitigated and combined sewer systems experience fewer overflow events. I argue as well that the implementation of rain gardens would act as a movement for neighborhood beautification. This research develops a new methodology for placing rain gardens that: 1) maximizes the aesthetic value of the gardens by favoring high-visibility locations and 2) targets locations that would best benefit from reduced stormwater runoff. The methods are developed and applied to the KeyStone Neighborhood of Rock Island, Illinois.

A sample of 500 parcels was taken and each parcel in the study area has been evaluated and ranked based on a set of beautification criteria focusing on areas of high-visibility and scales of “beauty.” Using the US Environmental Protection Agency’s National Stormwater Calculator, each parcel was again ranked according to the modeled percent change of runoff with the installation of a rain garden. The two ranks were then combined into a composite benefits score and mapped using ArcGIS software to display the parcel’s potential for neighborhood beautification and runoff reduction.