Wednesday, July 5, 2017

How Parks Can Play A Major Role In Managing Stormwater

In LandStudies’ white paper, Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4s), Municipalities, and Parks,” park professionals see firsthand the impacts flooding can have on parks and surrounding areas.
They may have to move park structures to higher ground before a severe storm or replace water damaged infrastructure after a flood.
Yet parks and other open spaces (rights-of-way, along streets, parking lot medians, etc.) are the most ideal places in a municipality to generate a variety of long-term economic, ecological, and community benefits,” such as water quality and quantity improvement and infrastructure protection.
Incorporating green infrastructure for stormwater management into parks provides a community with two major benefits: meeting regulatory requirements, such as those related to MS4 permits, and enhancing a public asset for the betterment of the entire community.
Any well-established park will have facilities in need of renovation or retrofit over the years, offering opportunities to manage stormwater “naturally” on-site. Parks yet to be built can have green infrastructure designed and installed from the beginning, reducing costs.
Green infrastructure for stormwater management may include:
-- Rain Gardens: these shallow depressions in the ground are planted with various native plants to treat and capture stormwater runoff. They can be placed in areas visible to park visitors and would be enhanced with educational signage.
-- Porous Pavement (also known as pervious or permeable): unlike regular paving that allows water to quickly run off, porous pavement allows precipitation to soak into the ground. Storage cells or other structures may be placed under the pavement to add additional filtration benefits.
-- Vegetated Swales: these shallow channels are planted with various native plants and used instead of underground pipes and concrete channels to move stormwater from one location to another. They have the bonus of allowing for infiltration and cleaning of the runoff.
-- Naturalized Infiltration Basins: these are depressions in the ground that provide temporary storage and infiltration of runoff. They are planted with myriad natives to provide wildlife habitat and to look aesthetically pleasing.
-- Streambank and/or Floodplain Restoration: this best mimics the interaction of groundwater, stream flow, and plant roots to reduce flooding, filter out pollution, recharge groundwater, prevent erosion, and lessen stream flows. The restoration may include grading streambanks to make them less steep, planting trees and other native vegetation, creating pools and meandering channels in the stream, and restoring wetlands. Any park with a stream, river, pond, or lake may benefit from these restoration practices. Incorporating stream access for fishing and wildlife viewing will enhance the visitor experience.
-- Stormwater Runoff Capture and/or Reuse: this may consist of a simple rain barrel attached to the gutter downspout on a visitor center building to more complex underground storage tanks or cisterns. The water collected in these devices can be used to irrigate gardens, wash vehicles, etc.
To learn more about how LandStudies is incorporating stormwater management and green infrastructure into park projects, visit the LandStudies’ Park Examples webpage.
A story map of sustainable parks in Pennsylvania put together by DCNR lets you take a virtual tour of some communities that have incorporated green infrastructure into their parks and natural areas.
For more information on stormwater and parks, visit DCNR’s Manage Stormwater Naturally/Green Infrastructure webpage.
Municipalities and partners across the Commonwealth are “greening” their projects with the support of DCNR grants. DCNR’s Bureau of Recreation and Conservation has a number of resources available to assist with green infrastructure at parks and natural areas, and offers technical assistance through regional advisors.
Homeowners who might be interested in implementing stormwater management on their properties can find information in the Homeowner’s Guide to Stormwater Management produced by the City of Philadelphia.
Learn more about stormwater management requirements in Pennsylvania, by visiting DEP’s Municipal Separate Storm Sewer (MS4) Program.
For more information, visit the LandStudies website or contact Christine Le, 717-726-4440 or send email to:  LandStudies is certified as a Woman’s Business Enterprise (WBE), Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) based in Lititz, Lancaster County.
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