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Urban Pathways to Water Quality and Flood Protection

Volnteers put in native plants on MLK Day - courtesy The Watershed Project

The Richmond Greenway in the San Francsico Bay Area is demonstrating how urban pathways can be multi-purpose--critical not only for transportation, but also as a place to treat storm runoff, prevent flooding of nearby properties, enhance habitat and provide green space. In addition to the community gardens Urban Tilth is building, The Watershed Project is constructing the Richmond Greenway Bioswale Project, located between 6th Street and 8th Street along the three-mile greenway. The bioswale was designed to serve as a demonstration project, showing how Low Impact Development (LID) management practices can be used to capture and treat stormwater using natural landscaping to model nature.

According to Matt Freiberg, the project manager:

"The bioswale is designed to capture and filter stormwater from the immediate neighborhood, reducing the impacts of urban runoff from the area. We amended the site's soil by replacing the dense clay soil with more pervious sandy soil to increase the lands capacity to absorb water. We also designed the channel to meander like a real river would. This provides a natural aesthetic that enhances the beauty of the site and slows water during large flow events, increasing the residence time of the water, allowing for greater filtration and infiltration of the water. Lastly, we incorporated native plants that attract beneficial insect and bird species as well as break up the soil allowing water to drain deeper into the soil. The overall design maximizes infiltration to keep water on site in the soil rather than flooding the site, and allows the soil bacteria opportunity to literally eat the organic pollutants that would normally run off into the bay."

The project will include posting a number of interpretive signs, providing an opportunity for the public to learn about native plants, how a bioswale works and the site's history. The bioswale engages the community as the Watershed Project hosts monthly workdays where people can help continue to plant new native vegetation, weed invasive species, beautify the site and learn about the impact of this project and how similar projects can be replicated throughout the community. "We also want to engage the community so they feel a sense of ownership of the site and are motivated to become stewards of their community environment for years to come," says Freiberg. 

Photo: Volunteers plant native plants on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, courtesy The Watershed Project

Posted Tue, Mar 15 2011 12:48 PM by Steve Schweigerdt (RTC)

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