Thursday, March 27, 2014

Week 8 - Field Trip to Visit a Landscape Architect

Today the GeoSquad took a field trip to Wilkinsburg to meet with Sara Madden a landscape architect at Stormworks. Sara works on designing landscapes that capture and soak up stormwater using rain gardens, rain barrels, and cisterns.

She installs these practices on residential lots and at schools in Pittsburgh. Sara started our visit with a short presentation of photos from some of the projects she designed and installed.
Sara showing us some of her design work.
After the presentation we went to visit some local projects within walking distance of her office. Our first stop was a patch of permeable pavement, called Flexipave. As we stepped from the concrete sidewalk to the Flexipave sidewalk we noticed a bit more squishiness under our feet. The pavement is made out of recycled tires!

We tested the pavement with some buckets of water and watched the water disappear into the pavement. We also learned that the pavement needs vacuumed every year. The resident who installed this sidewalk uses a shop vac to suck dirt out of the pavement.

Testing the permeable pavement.
We also saw a dozen rain barrels attached to homes. These were really large rain barrels that hold 133 gallons of water! The barrels are designed to capture 1/4 of the runoff generated by a 1 inch rainstorm on the average roof (1,000 sq ft) in Wilkinsburg.

Rain barrel at the Edgewood train station.
Our last stop was a rain garden at the Edgewood train station. The rain garden captures runoff from the roof of the Edgewood train station. We learned that rain gardens should be at least 10 feet from the building to prevent water from soaking into the basement.

This rain garden captures roof runoff.
It was pretty cool to see real examples of rain gardens and rain barrels in our city. We are very grateful that Sara was able to share so much information about stormwater management. Here are some more photos from our trip!

A very large rain garden at someone's house.
Standing on the permeable pavement.
The video team hard at work.
Checking out the rain garden.

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