Western Pennsylvania ConservancyWater, Land, Life

October 2015

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What is a Bioswale?
A bioswale.

Capturing and slowing stormwater runoff is important to reducing roadway flooding, non-point source water pollution like litter, pet waste and automotive fluids, and sewer overflows. In some instances, a viable alternative to installing additional underground storm drains is creating a green bioswale.

Bioswales are built landscape elements designed to control and filter stormwater runoff. Often constructed near roadways and parking lots, these structures are typically wide, shallow depressions containing soil, native vegetation, rocks and boulders with slopes that are steep enough to prevent ponding, yet gentle enough to encourage filtering.

Another bioswale.

For the last two years, the community of Millvale has benefited from two bioswales installed by WPC – constructed with funding from the Pennsylvania Infrastructure and Investment Authority (Pennvest) – along Hawthorne Road on the Sisters of St. Francis Mount Alvernia campus. The bioswale along Hawthorne Road is collecting runoff from an 11-acre area above the road flowing into Girty’s Run. Nearly 90 percent of stormwater capture is taking place within this bioswale, filtering and slowly releasing water into the creek and storm drains. Another bioswale near a parking lot on the campus is capturing water from a 1.2-acre area. These bioswales are helping to reduce flooding and ponding in these areas. That’s great news for many flood-prone areas in our region like Millvale!

Learn more about bioswales and the benefits of other green infrastructure projects at the opening of the new Point State Park bioswale! The event is open to the public and will be held at the park in downtown Pittsburgh on Oct. 22 at 2 p.m.

Western Pennsylvania Conservancy
800 Waterfront Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Phone: (412) 288-2777
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