Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Stormwater Tuesdays: CSO LTCPU… GCCW… BMP… LID

by Marley Bice, MCRP '12

It turns out stormwater management in general and a large city’s water management program website requires its own glossary in order to navigate the myriad of acronyms. I first fell in love with BMPs (best management practices) and LID (low-impact development) as an AmeriCorps member working on watershed outreach in Coastal Oregon but my new internship with CHPlanning and PWD (the Philadelphia Water Department) will help me learn more about IWMPs (Integrated Watershed Management Plans) and SWMMs (Stormwater Management Models) while I work on the City’s GC, CW (Green City, Clean Waters) program and their CSO LTCPU (combined sewer overflow long-term control plan update).
I guess it is important to start with understanding the past of water management and sewer systems in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, one of the oldest cities in the United States. William Penn’s original plan for Philadelphia included an emphasis on green open space and a city that promoted walkability. Philadelphia quickly grew into a city of industrial and historical renown.  The city’s leaders were quick to realize that they needed to protect their drinking water resources. Therefore, Fairmount Park (a total of 9200 acres) was established around the upper Schuylkill River to protect the city’s drinking water resources. Today, Philadelphians are beginning to realize that we need to protect our waters for environmental and recreation reasons as well. It was the Philadelphia Water Department’s recent reevaluation of how the city’s physical infrastructure affects the quality of the surrounding rivers that led to their new green stormwater infrastructure program: Green City, Clean Waters. I am privileged to be working with them at the exciting beginnings of this project.

So, watch this series on The RAPPS Blog for ramblings about making our cities greener by slowing rainwater down and soaking it in. I truly believe rain water is a valuable resource and can also create artwork in the most unexpected ways.
Photos from top left: slow it down and bring it to people's attention: creative gutters (Seattle Office of Arts & Culture); you can harvest rain anywhere and it doesn't have to be ugly (Haver & Boecker); creative vegetation and rainwater detention can also create outdoor spaces for students or employees (Sustainable City Network); permeable pavers are not only pretty and more natural looking, they also slow down sheet flow and decrease dangerous ice on steep driveways (Singley Lay Designs).

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