Jul 09, 2020

Rhode Island Park Launches Storm Water Innovation Center

Roger Williams Park recently launched Providence Stormwater Innovation Center (SIC).

storm water mitigation

Roger Williams Park recently launched Providence Stormwater Innovation Center (SIC).

The project is designed to reduce pollution from storm water runoff and provide insight into the methods and maintenance of the sites. According to a 2007 study, more than 30% of Providence is covered in impervious surfaces, so storm water runoff rarely gets the filtration it needs.

The installations include: rain gardens, bioretention systems, infiltration basins, and sand filters, among other methods, which were originally required as part of a consent agreement signed with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) in 2017.

The water quality of the ponds in the city-owned park have long been a concern, reported ecoRI. 25% of the total acreage of Roger Williams Park is ponds, which have become polluted with nitrogen and phosphorus. 

They are typically included on DEM’s list of impaired waters, added ecoRI.

“Due to the elevated bacteria measurement, the Roger Williams Park Ponds do not meet Rhode Island’s bacteria water quality standards,” according to a DEM document. There are currently 42 eco-friendly storm water filtration sites that were installed during the past two years.

The Stormwater Innovation Center has implemented a number of different storm water mitigation strategies at Roger Williams Park, including wet swale, dry swale, infiltration basin, bioretention and vegetated swale. The center is also going to add a tree filter as well.

The University of Rhode Island and the University of New Hampshire Stormwater Center are a part of the project, focusing on the maintenance aspect.

“I think one of the things that attracted the UNH Stormwater Center was a missing piece in the data, and that piece was the cost of construction and maintenance of these things,” said Brian Byrnes, deputy superintendent of parks and recreation for the city of Providence. “How do you design them so they’re less expensive to construct and maintain? And when the people from UNH came down and saw this, they said this is the piece we’re missing.”

The SIC will also enlist volunteers through URI’s Watershed Watch program in order to collect water data. As part of their partnership with URI and the UNH Stormwater Center, the park’s closed Seal House is being converted into SIC’s unofficial headquarters.

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