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Posts Tagged ‘rain gardens’

BY ZACH MORTICE

The West Bottoms Flats site is bisected by a narrow street, scaled as an intimate alley with landscaping. Image courtesy BNIM.

In Kansas City, the private sector is helping pick up the tab for green infrastructure in a new residential development.

 

Since 2010, Kansas City, Missouri, has been subject to a federal consent decree, to begin properly capturing sewage and stormwater before it flows into rivers and streams. It’s a consequence of the city’s overwhelmed combined sewer system, which covers 58 square miles. From 2002 to 2010, the system produced 1,300 illegal overflows, putting approximately 6.4 billion gallons of untreated sewage into waterways annually.

Notably, this is the first time a municipal water federal consent decree has allowed the use of green infrastructure, according to Andy Shively, a special assistant to the City Manager Troy Schulte, who works on issues relating to the consent decree. And the developer-driven West Bottoms Flats mixed-use residential complex designed by Kansas City-based BNIM is shaping up to be an influential test case for ways the private sector can grapple with public sector failure toward water quality goals.

Landscape architects at BNIM have designed the flats’ green infrastructure capacity to absorb excess stormwater as a series of placemaking amenities “in order to prevent it from being [value-engineered] from the project,” says Cheryl Lough, the director of BNIM’s landscape architecture studio. (more…)

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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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BY ALEX ULAM

The new Mosholu Golf Driving Range is part of a controversial water filtration plant project built at the edge of the bucolic Van Cortlandt Park.

The new Mosholu golf driving range is part of a controversial water filtration plant project built at the edge of the bucolic Van Cortlandt Park.

From the July 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Many things are not exactly what they appear to be at the new Mosholu golf driving range, located in the northwest section of the Bronx in New York City. Behind high stone walls and a gate monitored by armed policemen there are carefully crafted illusions worthy of an Olmsted design. A driveway leading into this place looks as if it were carved out of wilderness. On either side are sunken beds of untamed riparian plants that pool with water after rainstorms. Up a slope, past a low-slung building faced in rust-colored steel, you are at the high point of the range. The greens below are composed of hillocks with carpets of turfgrass, plush enough for a nap, which overlook a bowl-shaped depression.

Beneath the driving range is the Croton Water Filtration Plant. At a cost of more than $3.2 billion, it is among the most expensive public works projects ever built in New York City. The driving range sits atop a nine-acre green roof covering the plant, which is said to be the country’s largest contiguous green roof. It replaces an old municipal driving range bulldozed more than a decade ago to make way for the underground filtration plant, which descends about 100 feet into the ground. The subterranean structure is designed to filter up to 30 percent of New York City’s water supply.

The need to purify water, especially water that humans have polluted, has become (more…)

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