Case Study:

Rethinking Basins: Putting Nature to Work

Pennsylvania was once a landscape of green, but as development altered the land, it also affected the water regime.

Runoff became an issue, so basins were created as a standard "stormwater management" tool. Much like giant bathtubs, basins were designed to fill up in heavy storms and keep water at bay. That was then.

Today, it's pretty well acknowledged that traditional basins are not very effective. The good news is that there are a number of retrofits that can make them perform more naturally and help prevent flooding, filter pollutants, and get water back in to the ground.

Interested in Learning More?

Over the years, the vast majority of "stormwater detention basins"
were designed with flood prevention in mind.

Their purpose was to collect runoff from roads, buildings,
parking lots and the like, and channel it away from the site
and into a nearby stream as quickly as possible.

In doing their job, they created erosion and water quality problems downstream.

The current thinking about basins calls for slowing the flow of runoff, spreading it out, and enabling natural processes like evapotranspiration and infiltration to return it to the atmosphere or soak it into the ground. The result: better water quality and healthier streams. Our partners at the Pennsylvania Environmental Council,
in cooperation with a regional basin retrofit advisory team,
have developed a series of simple, low-cost retrofit measures
that can be employed to help protect our waterways and control pollution.

As an added bonus, they've developed an interactive look at
the problems associated with "traditional" stormwater basins --
and the various ways retrofitted basins can Slow, Spread, and
Soak the water from runoff.

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This excerpt looks at the problem with traditional basins -- and how quick retrofits can make them more effective at protecting rivers and streams.

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Additional Resources:
Pennsylvania Environmental Council
Meliora Design
Natural Lands Trust
Viridian Landscape Studio