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BY LISA OWENS VIANI

In Great Lakes cities, derelict parcels sponge up stormwater.

FROM THE AUGUST 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Eight years ago, Sandra Albro, a research associate in applied urban ecology at the Cleveland Botanical Garden (now Holden Forests & Gardens) began to think about opportunities lurking in the city’s vacant lots—in particular how to help cities with their water quality problems. During heavy rains, raw sewage from old, leaky, combined sewer-stormwater systems is often flushed into the Great Lakes, resulting in beach closures not fun for tourists. At the same time, in Cleveland, Ohio; Buffalo, New York; and Gary, Indiana—where populations have declined by as much as 40 to 50 percent since the 1950s—derelict houses and vacant lots have increased: 30,000 in Cleveland, 7,000 in Gary, and more than 6,000 in Buffalo.

Cleveland, Buffalo, and Gary are among 158 communities with permits from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to discharge treated wastewater into the Great Lakes. The agency has also charged them with implementing Long Term Control Plans under the Clean Water Act to eliminate discharges of untreated sewage from their combined system overflows. “It’s a funny thing,” says David Rankin, the executive director of the Great Lakes Protection Fund, a private nonprofit corporation that funds projects to build the health of the lakes. “Most of the time these systems do a great job of managing stormwater—they actually treat it. It was state-of-the-art Victorian engineering that dates back to the Industrial Revolution. But in heavy rains, some waste gets flushed out, too—and when you’re looking at more than 100 dischargers, it starts to add up.” According to the EPA, in 2014 the toll was an estimated 22 billion gallons of untreated wastewater discharged into the lakes.

Rankin says Great Lakes cities need to think differently about the problem—many are trying to find funding to build massive pipes. But with their populations declining, he suggests these cities should think about solutions that don’t involve tens or hundreds of millions of dollars. So when Albro came to him with her idea for using vacant lots to capture stormwater, the fund awarded her a small grant to develop a plan. She contacted 11 Great Lakes cities, (more…)

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It’s the first of August, which means the latest issue of LAM is here! You’ll find these stories inside:

FOREGROUND

Lots of Opportunity (Water)
PUSH Blue helps Great Lakes communities manage their stormwater with rain gardens,
playgrounds, and greenhouses created on vacant parcels.

The Finer Fabric (Preservation)
A historic Tucson neighborhood is making an inventory of the street details,
big and small, that make it singular.

Tooling Up (Tech)
Digital work flows for CNC fabrication are coming out of the studio and into practice.

FEATURES

Democratic Void
Zurich’s vast public square, Sechseläutenplatz, opened in 2014. Now the city’s residents must decide how (and how often) they want to use it.

Almost Wilderness, Maybe Forever
The 24,000-acre Jack and Laura Dangermond Preserve on the California coast was bought—and protected—with the largest donation ever made to the Nature Conservancy.

Made to Disappear
Berger Partnership’s landscape for the Washington Fruit & Produce Company headquarters takes inspiration from Yakima Valley’s agricultural heritage.

All this plus the regular Now and Goods columns. The full table of contents for August can be found here.

As always, you can buy this issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine at more than 700 bookstores, including many university stores and independents, as well as at Barnes & Noble. You can also buy single digital issues for only $5.25 at Zinio or order single copies of the print issue from ASLA. Annual subscriptions for LAM are a thrifty $59 for print and $44.25 for digital. Our subscription page has more information on subscription options.

Keep an eye out here on the blog, on the LAM Facebook page, and on our Twitter feed (@landarchmag), as we’ll be posting August articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “Tooling Up,” Marion Brenner, Affiliate ASLA; “Lots of Opportunity,” Sandra Albro, Holden Forests & Gardens; “The Finer Fabric,” Steve Grede; “Made to Disappear,” Kevin Scott; “Almost Wilderness, Maybe Forever,” The Nature Conservancy/Peter Montgomery; “Democratic Void,” © Manuel Bauer Agentur Focus.

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