Innovative Stormwater Approaches Essential for a Healthy Great Bay

Mar 9, 2012 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

Aerial View of Site - Porous Asphalt Shows as Dark Gray

Stormwater pollution continues to be one of the greatest threats to the health of the Great Bay estuary. Fortunately, innovative approaches to development can dramatically reduce and even eliminate polluted runoff and the damage it can cause to our water bodies. We have a great example of innovation here in the estuary’s watershed, in Greenland.

In 2003, a large retail development was proposed to be built on the banks of Pickering Brook, roughly a mile upstream of Great Bay. CLF voiced major concerns about the many pollutants that would run off of the retail center’s massive parking lots – pollutants such as metals, bacteria and nutrients – and the harm they would cause to Pickering Brook and Great Bay. In response, the project’s developer agreed to work with CLF and the UNH Stormwater Center to re-design their approach to managing stormwater.

The result? With guidance from the UNH Stormwater Center, the developer constructed a large portion of its parking lot using porous asphalt – an innovative approach that allows rainwater and snowmelt to percolate through the paved surface into a layer of sand and gravel, below. Porous pavement is an important and highly effective new tool in reducing polluted runoff; the Greenland installation is the largest porous pavement facility in the Northeast.

The developer also constructed a gravel wetland to treat stormwater from the site, before it reaches Pickering Brook. Recent monitoring by the UNH Stormwater Center confirms that these innovative systems are working – greatly reducing pollution that would otherwise occur.

Working together, CLF, the UNH Stormwater Center and the developer showed that innovative approaches can work – and can make a difference. To put Great Bay, the Piscataqua River and the estuary as a whole on a path to recovery, innovation and creative solutions will be essential. One of my primary tasks as the Great Bay-Piscataqua Waterkeeper is to work with stakeholders to identify and promote innovative solutions to the problems facing the estuary. We’re extremely fortunate to have the Stormwater Center as a resource not only for Great Bay, but for the nation. And we’re fortunate to have successful models to be replicated in the future.

To view the UNH Stormwater Center’s “case study” description of this project, click here.

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