Oh my, GSI!

Emilie Wetzel
Dec 5, 2017

Blog by TTF’s Upstream Conservation Leader, Frankie Lazauskas

As a member of the Sustainable Business Network’s GSI Partners, TTF’s Upstream Conservation Leader, Frankie Lazauskas, was invited to participate in their Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) Operations & Maintenance Course this fall. Green Stormwater Infrastructure projects are essentially gardens that are carefully designed to capture and manage excess water from rain storms. Examples of GSI are stormwater planters, green roofs, tree trenches, and rain gardens, to name a few. Professionals from across the GSI industry such as landscape architects and designers, facilities managers, and maintenance crews came together to learn about all aspects of GSI.

This three-day course was very in-depth. The first two days of the course, we learned about the ins and outs of creating a successful GSI project, and learned about topics such as design, construction, planting, seeding, and long-term maintenance. The final day, we explored the GSI projects at Kemble Park and La Salle University. This provided a unique perspective on the variability in GSI projects and how that may affect how each project should be designed and maintained.

One big takeaway from this course is that the field of GSI is continuing to determine which management practices work best. The Philadelphia Water Department’s (PWD) Green City, Clean Waters initiative is a big contributor to the continuing exploration of GSI knowledge. One lesson learned is the importance of having an excellent maintenance plan after the project is built. Using this knowledge,  PWD now has a crew tasked with checking up on each project and providing the maintenance that’s needed. Each month, they check for signs of clogged pipes and inlets, removing debris as routinely as possible, and provide feedback on how the project is functioning on a systems level. Are the plants surviving? Which plants are surviving? Is the water moving where they want it to move? What other plants have moved in? These types of questions are important to the overall success of any GSI project, thus, it’s important to visit GSI projects frequently in order to answer these questions.

TTF could use some help– we currently have 12 GSI projects throughout our watershed, with more to come! We want our GSI projects to be successful but have limited capacity to do it on our own. Would you be interested in helping us maintain our creekside plantings and rain gardens? If so, contact our Upstream Conservation Leader at frankie@ttfwatershed.org. Feel free to check out our interactive map here, to find a project near you!

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