CDRW Hosts Green Stormwater Infrastructure Tour

Diana Maher, Watershed Program Coordinator

On November 3rd and 4th, staff members from PEC attended the Delaware River Watershed Forum to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Coalition’s formation and the collective success for the Delaware River Watershed.

To close the forum on November 4th, PEC, along with watershed partners, the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership (TTF) and Wissahickon Trails, organized and executed a bus/walking tour to show participants different green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) features in the communities of Abington and Cheltenham Townships, located upstream of the City of Philadelphia. Our tour featured best management practices that are newly installed or currently being installed in the Sandy Run tributary of the Wissahickon Watershed and Shoemaker Run within the TTF watershed.

Our first stop was Roychester Park.

Tour participants view the meadow and raingarden installed in Roychester Park.

Roychester Park is a township-owned park located behind Overlook Elementary School in Abington. There are a few stormwater best management projects that have been implemented on the property, including bioswales, infiltration trenches, and a buffer planting. These were all installed with the goal of reducing rainwater runoff and flooding in Sandy Run, the largest tributary stream in the Wissahickon Watershed. Joining us at the site were Dr. Laura Toran of Temple University and Abington Township Commissioner Jessica Carswell. Dr. Toran explained the water monitoring program which is helping to understand changes in stream flow resulting from these measures.  Commissioner Carswell was there to greet the tour participants and express thanks for the work being done for the community in collaboration with the Township and Wissahickon Trails.

Participants also visited a joint GSI system located on two private residential properties adjacent to the park whose owners collaborated with Wissahickon Trails through the Streamsmart Stormwater Housecalls program. This rain garden and bioswale system spans the two properties and can manage a drainage area of over 58,000 square feet because of the location and slope of the land.

It was noted that the community is very appreciative of the work that Wissahickon Trails and other partners have done in Roychester park. The private homeowners in particular were very excited to install the rain garden and teach the community about its benefits. Students from Overlook Elementary School regularly explore the meadow planting areas to catch bugs and frogs. These projects improve the natural environment of the area, while increasing the educational opportunity of community members and students.

The tour then visited ongoing projects at Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel.

Converting impervious surface to naturalized area (mid construction).

The second and final stop of our tour was seeing the parking lot retrofit project at Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel (KI) in the Elkins Park neighborhood of Cheltenham Township. Managed by the TTF Watershed Partnership in collaboration with Synagogue officials, the goal of this project is to replace a portion of the large parking lot with green stormwater infrastructure to reduce the volume and velocity of runoff generated by this large parking lot area. This project is still under construction, but once it is completed, the parking lot will lose some spaces along its rear section and this area that was once impervious surface will be more naturalized to increase infiltration.

There are also subsurface infiltration basins installed under the synagogue’s side lawn. These basins collect water from the 1.25-acre rooftop of the synagogue and holds it to reduce runoff on impervious surfaces and provide infiltration. These are hidden under a section of turf grass facing Township Line Road.

Joining us at the site was KI’s executive director, Brian Rissinger, who expressed appreciation for the opportunity to collaborate with TTF on the project. KI contributed matching funds to the grants obtained for the design and implementation of the various stormwater features.

These projects are essential because Elkins Park is a highly developed community and KI is located in one of the headwater tributaries to TTF Watershed. This allows the greatest opportunity to improve water quality at the source. It is also an example of what other private landowners, such as religious institutions, can do to mitigate stormwater runoff on their property throughout the Philadelphia region.