Upper Perkiomen High School Naturalized Basins and Swales


The Upper Perkiomen School District has taken steps to implement stormwater Best Management Practices (BMPs) at Marlborough Elementary School and at Upper Perkiomen High School. These BMPs manage flooding from school property runoff and protect adjacent Green Lane Reservoir’s drinking water by reducing sedimentation and nutrients from school property. The natural integrity of the reservoir and its surrounding ecosystem is better maintained due to these Best Management Practices.

This project is not only indicative of Upper Perkiomen School District’s dedication to sustainable land use, but also of the District’s commitment to providing its students with valuable learning experiences. Environmental science students planted the swales and basin on different occasions in the Spring and Fall of 2004. The BMPs also are used as living laboratories by science classes learning about environmental issues. In addition, the District hopes that the stormwater BMPs will be a community learning resource that may motivate other schools and in the residential developments and golf courses around Green Lane Reservoir to implement similar BMPs on their properties.

The BMP projects include: Bioretention Swales, Naturalized Basins, and No-Mow Zones.

Bioretention Swales
Oil and grease from school parking lots at Upper Perkiomen High School are filtered through constructed bioretention swales. These vegetated swales are planted with herbaceous and shrub species. Click here for plant list. Plants were selected according to their blooming period, their ability to provide habitat for wildlife and their tolerance to moisture. Because stormwater naturally flows into recessed areas, the swales absorb surface water, decreasing the threat of flooding.

Naturalized Basins and No-Mow Zones 
The Upper Perkiomen School District has implemented naturalized basins and no-mow zones at its different school properties. Developing a naturalized basin can be a very simple task. At the Marlborough Elementary School site facilities management simply stopped mowing the bowl of the basin in Spring 2002. After a year of letting the basin grow naturally, native grasses and plants overtook the turf grass. Not only do the natives look more natural and provide wildlife with habitat and food, but they also provide an ideal stormwater management facility. With bigger roots and a natural ability to soak up water and pollutants, native plants provide a smart alternative to regular sod.


County: Montgomery
Watershed: Perkiomen Creek

Upper Perkiomen High School is located at 2 Walt Road in Pennsburg. The school is located in an important ecological area in Southeastern Pennsylvania that represents the largest contiguous woodlands in this part of the State. Penn Environment named the Unami Creek area one of Pennsylvania’s 10 most special places at risk in a 2002 report. Recent technological advances make it easier to build on the rocky topography of the Perkiomen Watershed area, mounting the risk of urban encroachment. Risks include a dangerous decline in the water table, reduced water quality, and a loss of natural diversity found in the area’s unique wildlife.


The Partnership for the Delaware Estuary
Upper Perkiomen School District
Montgomery County Conservation District


A Delaware Estuary Program Mini-Grant of $4,100 provided funds to plant vegetation in existing swales and a basin on school property.


John Sheeran
Director of Facilities and Operations

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