The Really Big Tree Project will bring more trees to downtown Columbia

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COLUMBIA – Downtown Columbia will have more trees in the future due to the Really Big Tree Project.

The project by Columbia’s Stormwater Utility is designed to improve storm water quality because trees filter pollutants out of runoff and ground water, in addition to shading and beautifying the area.

A permeable pavement over the trees’ roots will allow water to seep into the soil rather than flowing into storm sewers and taking pollutants with it. The city said that will also help Columbia’s infrastructure because it will put less strain on the sewers.

Mike Heimos, a storm water educator for the city, said trees are useful for many things.

“They improve water quality, they improve air quality, they are sufficient in reducing the use of electricity especially in hot summer months, they’re beautification to the local landscaping,” he said.

The first tree will be planted this November on the corner of Tenth Street and Broadway. That planter took nine days to complete.

Heimos said many decisions go into the process of choosing locations for the tree planters.

“You can’t just put these anywhere. You really have to take into consideration the infrastructure that’s around us, what’s underneath the tree planters and what areas we can put them in,” he said.

Heimos said The District budgeted $20,000 for the project. Stormwater Utility is looking into getting grants to plant more trees downtown.