Oak Creek Watershed Council

The Oak Creek Watershed Council has been coming to Unity in our endeavor to change the way rainwater flows on our property. This work helps to keep our waterways cleaner, as well as nourishing our own land in a more natural way.

Click here to find out more about the Oak Creek Watershed Council and the Settlers Rest Project.

Click here to read a published article about what we are doing with the Oak Creek Watershed Council.

Read on for regular updates….

May 23rd, 2015
It’s been a couple of very full and exciting days with the Oak Creek Watershed Council and company.

presentationYesterday, I attended an awesome workshop which included many speakers from other municipalities, as well as experts on stormwater management. The presentations were informative and very interesting. What impressed me the most is that three different municipalities were represented by people who ARE making a difference with keeping our waters cleaner in many ways. Flagstaff is by far the most progressive with the projects they are doing, but Prescott has also been involved with projects similar to what we are doing at Unity. And I was really happy to find out that even Sedona has ordinances in place for commercial building construction and hotels, so that their stormwater is handled more responsibly.

There is, for sure, however, a long way to go for people to understand how just few simple changes can make a world of difference for all of us, not to mention that we are living more harmoniously on the earth.

Today, we spent on a walking tour of the neighborhood where we could see areas that need a lot of improvement, right on the same street that we are on! The work we are doing on the property will help others see what can be done.

I consider it an act of love for the living spirit of the Earth Mother.

After picture

After picture

After our tour, we got to work on the pathway from the parking lot to the crosswalk to the Montessori School. It took some planning and discussion, but what we came up with was an amazing plan to divert 2100 gallons of toxic water in any one inch rainfall from eroding our tar and muddying the path, only to dump into the sewer system, and then flow to Oak Creek after picking up even more sediment on the way.

The work we did today was to build two basins, filled with mulch, which will capture the water and allow it to seep into the groundwater, while the toxins are destroyed by the natural bacteria in the soil. The basins add more fresh water to our landscape, as well as to the groundwater table, and ultimately, less water flows to the sewer systems. We are purifying the water for all future use, as well as saving money on our own water bill, and having an even more beautiful landscape as a result.

We will be planting some new plants and shrubs to assist with the water diversions in July, and the expert in this area is already planning what will be planted where. July is the optimal time to put these particular plants in, and we are hoping to coincide it with our landscaping day.

I am tired, achy, and so happy with the work we did today.

Linda Mae


June 27th, 2015
Today I joined the Oak Creek Watershed Council on their next project at Unity.

We focused on the area on the hillside behind the carport, on the south side of the property.

The crewWe changed the gutter drain around so rainwater doesn’t flow down the driveway. Instead it will pool in a porous basin and then flow through a series of swales as it absorbs into the earth and hopefully will not reach the driveway at the bottom of the hill, but just in case, we began digging a ditch at the base of the hill to catch as much as possible.

The swales also have the added effect of being the future home of some landscaping. The horticulturist on the team was explaining to me that she is recommending some bushes, such as sage, on the hillside, and then further down, some of those big bunches of grasses and wildflowers. It should take a bit of care and watering at first, but eventually, the whole thing will be self-sustaining. I think it sounds wonderful!

We got quite a bit done, even though we only worked for 4 hours. It was hot out, and that didn’t seem to stop any of us.

I am pleased with the results.

Linda Mae


July 11th, 2015
hillside swalesThe OCWC met today to continue work on the back hill behind the cafe. They extended some of the swales that they started last time, and made them switchback so the water would flow across the hill and back. This picture barely catches the intricacy of the design. These swales will be planted with grasses and wildflowers.

Some of the planting actually began today. I planted wildflower seeds among the rocks under the big tree, and Ryah planted down by the parking lot. Then Molly from OCWC brought out some grass plugs she has been growing, and placed several down by the parking lot, including in the middle where the bush is. She also put several on the first swales we did, just off the patio. grass plug planted

These grasses and wildflowers will help to anchor the berms so that water flows as we want it to, and they beautify the area and actually inhibit weed growth. So, when they begin to grow, we need to be careful not to assume they are weeds. They aren’t. They were specially prepared for our property to give us the greatest benefits, especially on the hillsides. It will look like a meadow of wildflowers and grasses when it’s all grown in, which may not be fully until spring, although we should see some growth after the monsoons. And the best part is, there should be very little care needed. They grow naturally and are self-sustaining.

Linda Mae


July 18th, 2015
The Oak Creek Watershed Council came and worked on the land today, once again.

Planting grass plugs

Today, we planted more wildflower seeds as well as many grass shoots. We have now planted over 100 plants on the property! The grass shoots in particular, will be growing into decorative bunches of grasses that help by retaining rainwater, as well as strengthening the structure of the berms and swales. They are a welcome addition to our landscape as they also help to deter weeds.

We have marked all of the new baby shoots with little white flags, as you can see in the some of the attached photos.

Building a rain gardenAnother huge project that OCWC took on was starting the rain garden by the dumpster off the back driveway. We have built a series of “pools” that help the rainwater flow off the driveway and yet stay on the land. The next steps in this project will be planting many native plants that will self-sustain, as well as providing structural support and natural beauty for our property.

And finally, we began work on a few swales on the west side of the parking lot, to inhibit the flow of the water into the wash. This will help to cut down on driveway runoff as well as providing an additional source of water for our trees.

Linda Mae


August 1st, 2015
photo 2Today, with the Oak Creek Watershed Council, we worked on three different projects. The first one was more planting. Today, we planted some butterfly and quail bushes over by the patio, some flowering bushes on the hillside behind the cafe to help set the swales, and some pretty flowers in the swales and pools by the parking lot.Flowers in parking lot swale


We also found that some of the swales on the hillside gave way in the heavy rain yesterday, so spent some time shoring them up, as well as building a few additional swales and pools, and coming up with some ideas on how to correct the problem of erosion on that hillside, which all ends up in the driveway.

Posts for the rain gardenAnd finally, we worked a little more on the Rain Garden. Apparently someone felt they could park there last week, so we repaired the damage (which was greatly helped by the recent rain), and put up posts to stop that from happening again. We are talking about putting in newer, more permanent posts and possibly flagstone in between that will match other decor on the property.

The Oak Creek Watershed Council will be with us one more time, on August 15th, where we will probably see what we can do regarding swales on the remaining hillside, and do more planting.

It’s been a very rewarding project!

Linda Mae


August 15th, 2015

New seedling sproutWe planted more flowers, seeds, and grasses in and around the various swales, and cactus was planted in the rain garden. It was exhilarating to see the seeds we planted just a few weeks ago, now sprouting and three inches high!

We also worked on the swales on the southeast side of the hill, in our efforts to divert rainwater off the driveway. There is still one more to be dug, but we need to have the city mark our utility lines before we can do the final swale on that hillside.

Creating the new swales

The game plan for the next two months includes two more working days – probably the first week in September and the first week in October. During this time, we will be putting in a porous walkway from the cafe to the parking lot – basically an eco-friendly glue that holds together pea gravel into a more solid surface so people can use walkers, strollers, and even bicycles on our path. We will also be putting finishing touches on swales, and diverting rainwater from the as-yet-to-be-installed gutters on the main building.

some of the crewAlso, during September, the Council will be placing signs around the property, with little explanations of what was done and why. They are also planning a short walking tour on September 19th with guests, to show off some of the work. They should only be on the property for about a half hour, but since that’s Member Appreciation Day, it may be a good time for our members to also get a tour of what’s been done.

It was really hot work yesterday and more than one of us stood under the spray of the hose to cool off, but the dedication of these folks shone through. This is truly a blessing.

Linda Mae

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