Stormwater Management

by Thomas Benjamin

The evolution of Kent Hospital’s Sustainable Campus Landscape Initiative was both capital project and Master Plan driven. In the early 2000s, Kent, located in Warwick, RI, embarked on planning major upgrades to the Emergency Department and Emergency Room, including a 1,393 square meters +/- (15,000 square-foot) Women’s Imaging Center addition, substantial new parking, driveways and street frontage retaining walls. The campus’s new 4,645 square meter +/- (50,000 square foot), five-story Trowbridge Data Center was also being planned at the time. In seeking stormwater permits from the state, Kent learned that it was approaching its runoff discharge limits and additional impervious surfaces would produce runoff volumes far in excess of those limits. Continue reading

by Catherine Neal

Modern storm water management systems rely on vegetation to hold the soil, filter contaminants, absorb nutrients, intercept and transpire water, and support healthy and diverse soil biology. Engineers are only beginning to appreciate the contribution that landscapers can make to help green infrastructure survive and thrive. Selecting appropriate plants for biofilters, bioswales, rain gardens and other vegetated storm water management systems is a critical first step to their success. But remember that plant selection only goes so far; though not discussed here, for long-term success, a maintenance plan must be implemented. Continue reading

by Paul Iorio

I recently brought to completion a large parking lot project that illustrates the applications as well as adaptability of tree filter systems in an urban environment. Tree filter systems integrate common street trees with stormwater collection to achieve a viable and sustainable alternative to a traditional “end of pipe” system, while still meeting stormwater management and remediation goals. Tree filter systems utilize the principal of “bioretention” – the natural process by which chemicals and sediments are removed from stormwater runoff prior to subsurface infiltration. Many state regulatory agencies and municipalities now strongly encourage low impact development (LID) techniques such as tree filter systems because they replicate pre-development conditions and reduce the negative impact of land development and surface paving. Continue reading

by Randy Rath

One of the biggest threats to the water quality of many lakes – including Lake George in upstate New York – is stormwater runoff. After a storm, water that falls on soil can infiltrate down into the ground and eventually make its way into the groundwater. Water that falls on impervious surfaces, such as roads and parking lots, cannot soak into the ground, and instead moves across these surfaces. Continue reading

logo.224by Anne Leiby and Cindy Brown

Stormwater runoff is a significant source of water pollution in the United States. As rain falls onto hard surfaces, such as roofs, roads, parking lots, sidewalks, and hard-packed grass, it picks up and carries with it a variety of pollutants including bacteria, heavy metals, nutrients, and sediment. These pollutants flow into rivers, lakes, streams and oceans and cause significant environmental degradation of precious water resources. Extreme precipitation events are increasingly common in certain parts of the country so addressing stormwater runoff through a variety of methods, including green infrastructure solutions that incorporate creative, and often beautiful, landscaping solutions, is more important than ever. Continue reading

by Lisa Cowan

Recent destructive storm events have focused public attention on climate change, sustainable site design, and resiliency. As ecological design practitioners, we have an opportunity to build on this paradigm shift and take the lead in promoting a more sustainable approach to water management. To help our new ideas take root quickly, we must bring together new ways to frame our discussion of ecologically-based design, and we must follow through with beautiful spaces that resonate. Continue reading

by Kevin Beuttell

Traditionally, stormwater was viewed as a burden on the landscape. Water was typically taken away through channels and pipes as quickly as possible to avoid flooding on site. Today, we know water and ecological quality can be improved when water is allowed to infiltrate, using it as a resource where it falls. It is now widely understood that rain gardens use the natural capacities of soil and vegetation to retain and cleanse stormwater as it infiltrates. Appropriate maintenance activities that ensure these landscapes maintain their ornamental appearance and critical environmental functions are less well known, however. Continue reading

by Heather D Heimarck

I have always been a map gazer, letting my mind wander along the mountain ridges and rivers of the world. Recently, I have taken up a study on the history of cartography, how each map reflects a worldview, a “cosmology” of the planet. The connection between human habitation, expansion, and commerce to the winds and the global currents is now largely forgotten, our ability to travel is so unfettered, but in essence global currents are how the Europeans navigated past the Cape of Good Hope and the secrets of the Arabian Sea were revealed, leading to commerce and to the next sea, and the next. Continue reading

by John Mark Courtney

Plants are a key element to a balanced pond ecosystem. No matter how big or small the body of water may be, plants play an essential role in maintaining good water quality and a healthy balanced habitat. Some of the functions plants perform include bank and soil stabilization, nutrient uptake from the water column, and habitat for everything from beneficial microbes, insects, fish, and amphibians to ducks, small mammals, and song birds. Plants also provide us with visual aesthetics with showy flowers and blocks of texture and color throughout the seasons. Continue reading

Concepts in mitigating site impacts when using heavy equipment

Part 1 – Soil and Equipment

by Walker Korby

From the cab of even a small 6-ton diesel excavator, every site should look ecologically sensitive. These machines are designed to make a large difference in a short amount of time, so when it comes to changing or creating a landscape, every move counts.

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