Between 2007 and 2009, two projects were undertaken to address stormwater management on Springside School’s campus, located on the banks of the Wissahickon Creek in Northwest Philadelphia. The first is a traffic circle rain garden that is planted with native vegetation. The second BMP is an artistic solution to stormwater runoff from roof downspouts, created by Stacy Levy, an environmental artist, who worked with students to design where sudden increases in runoff volume and velocity had begun negatively impacting the watershed.
The rain garden collects and filters runoff diverted from campus drains and from the surrounding asphalt surface of the traffic circle. Collected runoff infiltrates into the soil and waters the garden’s native plants before it passes into the watershed’s groundwater supply. As part of its master plan, Springside had built four recharge beds buried under parking lots and fields to control excess runoff from roofs and other impervious areas. These recharge beds, along with the rain garden (designed by the Philadelphia Water Department), help control the amount of excess water carrying debris and topsoil from the school’s impervious surfaces into the Wissahickon Creek, which borders the property. The combined efforts have directed excess water to where it can best be used.
By implementing these BMPs in highly trafficked areas of the campus such as the circle and parking lots, Springside sets an example of attractive stormwater management and hopes to encourage those who visit to reconsider their own approach to the issue. The plants selected were suggested in consultation with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society; they are native to Pennsylvania and able to survive both drought and flood.
In addition to the infrastructure described above, the school has also added environmental art in the form of The Springside Water Web, a creative solution to the excess runoff from the expansive school roof. The Web is a playful, sculptural downspout system that captures and funnels rain water into specially designed wall drains, which then disperse it into a courtyard rain garden below. Previously, this runoff ran onto impervious surfaces, where it picked up pollutants and debris before it ran into the Wissahickon Creek, often taking topsoil along with it. The plants selected for both rain gardens were suggested in consultation with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society; they are native to Pennsylvania and able to survive both drought and flood. Students will use the rain garden areas as places of research for current and future environmental and hydrology science projects.
Watershed: Wissahickon Creek
8000 Cherokee Street
Philadelphia, PA 19118