Urban Plants & Soil as Stormwater Management Workhorses 

Shoemaker Green at the University of Pennsylvania, designed by Andropogon Associates with stormwater engineering by Meliora Design. Photo credit Barrett Doherty

Shoemaker Green at the University of Pennsylvania, designed by Andropogon Associates with stormwater engineering by Meliora Design.
Photo credit Barrett Doherty

When high-intensity rainfall events roll through cities, particularly those with combined sewer systems, peak flows increasingly overwhelm grey infrastructure, compromise water quality, and induce sedimentation and erosion. New research suggests that engineered soil and purposely selected plants within green infrastructure may help offset these flows by offering more benefit than most stormwater engineering models and municipalities acknowledge.

A handful of progressive entities – like the Chesapeake Stormwater Network and the Commonwealth of Virginia – now award extra stormwater credit for management approaches that deploy high-performance engineered soils, dense and varied planting palettes, or an inter-connected series of green infrastructure elements. More research is needed, however, to mobilize engineers, designers, and policy makers to rely more heavily on the “green” in green infrastructure.

(More …)