It’s often said that “seeing is believing.” That’s what our attendees learned through Managing Rainfall: TTF Stormwater Project Tour, our two season innovative green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) project tour series.
These fall and spring tours were made possible with funding from the Water Resource Education Network (WREN) of the Pennsylvania League of Women Voters Citizen Education Fund through a Growing Greener grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Targeted at municipal officials, staff, and volunteers, these tours provided an opportunity to visit and learn about innovative (GSI) projects that TTF and the Philadelphia Water Department have implemented to manage stormwater and improve neighborhoods. In October, TTF led a tour of GSI in our watershed within the City of Philadelphia.
Earlier this month, TTF held the spring tour, which focused on projects in Cheltenham and Abington, including two of TTF’s own award-winning project sites!
Fifteen professionals representing Representative Steven McCarter’s staff, the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD), Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC), Cheltenham Township Commissioner Drew Sharkey, local Environmental Advisory Councils, interested citizens and others met at High School Park. Restoration Manager Kevin Reis gave a tour of the restored meadow and helped the group envision the rain garden planned for the fall.
“We’re planting rain gardens in Ambler,” said Ambler Mayor and tour attendee Jeanne Sorg, “it’s helpful to see what other municipalities are doing”. Reis spoke with participants from the Philadelphia Water Department’s GSI Team about how the Friends maintain the meadow and discussed how their practices have enhanced the park for visitors. The tour group also made a trip down to the Tookany Creek to see the actual stream that these projects are protecting.
The tour proceeded to two TTF projects: the riparian buffers at Abington Junior High School and Glenside Elementary School. Each school is home to a stream and the projects were created because the school community wanted to serve as good watershed stewards.
Previously mowed areas along the stream were replaced by native plants that prevent polluted stormwater runoff from entering the waterway. These projects benefit both the stream and the school, providing outdoor on-site nature classrooms. Nancy Minich of NAM Planning and Design, LLC, designed both buffers and served as the site specialist. Nancy explained her history as a TTF stream assessor and her background as a Landscape Architect, Professor and Horticultural Therapist. “It is imperative that a student have a connection to a natural environment,” said Nancy. Abington School District Director of Facilities Steve Saile added, “We have a Green Thumbs club at the school that not only learns at the buffer, but actually maintains it as well.”
The final tour stop was Arcadia University. Tom Macchi, Vice President of Facilities, led the tour through Arcadia’s parking lots and fields, describing how the basins below store and treat rain water, slowly releasing it back to the ground. “I walk through this campus every day, and never knew all of these fields had basins under them,” said Arcadia Senior and TTF intern Emma Hickey.
The tour ended at a section of stream undergoing restoration. Tour attendees watched Arcadia students enjoying the stream, with some students busily taking observation notes. The interaction of people and the stream on a gorgeous spring day gave us all a lasting impression of the importance of these projects.
The Castle Landing at Arcadia hosted our networking reception at the tour’s end. Participants shared their thoughts on different practices while snacking and enjoying the impressive view of Arcadia’s Castle. We provided each participant with a comprehensive guidebook on each management practice and site, as well as references and site specialist information.