This post is an expansion of a recent instagram post:
While walking through the Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia i became fascinated with the stormwater management best practices and monitoring taking place in the buffer land adjacent to I95. The highway is elevated and 100% impervious surfaces, which is a bad combination. In any stormwater event, there will be very high surface/sheet flows, which means fast moving water can cause damage, standing water, and tax storm drains and sewer systems if combined. In a perfect world, we would want storm water to move slowly and have plenty of places to drain into pervious surfaces.
The cool thing about the I95 project is that PennDOT and the Villanova Urban Stormwater Partnership are helping to slow down the surface runoff from the highway through a series of best management practices and monitoring techniques. These measures include bio-infiltration rain gardens, stormwater control measures, infiltration trenches, simple rain gardens, and planters. Many of the areas are also fitted with monitoring stations to measure the conditions of weather events.
The VUSP’s mission is to advance the evolving field of sustainable stormwater management and to foster the development of public and private partnerships through research.
I’ve visited these sites several times over the last six months, and have even been fortunate enough to witness during moderate rain storm events. The goal of the research if to measure the impacts of these sites on the watershed and to see if these sites help mitigate effectively. I’m sure that they do, and am looking forward to learning the quantitative impacts in the future. I’ll also add that in addition to these site have a functional purpose, they are also very aesthetically pleasing and are well planted with mostly native grasses, shrubs and trees. These types of habitats have a ripple effect by providing communities for birds and insects which are hard to come by in dense urban neighborhoods such as Fishtown.