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September & October 2013
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Surface Water Improvements

On curbed streets, the gutters direct stormwater to storm sewers. However storm sewers can get overwhelmed during heavy rains and it is generally better practice to manage stormwater closer to where it falls than to channel it into built structures. But in a neighborhood without curbs or other infrastructure to direct water during heavy rains, stormwater will pond in any low spot. Residents can find that water stands in potholes, on sidewalks, and in yards. There are several strategies to treat stormwater without draining it into the stormwater sewer system. A recent project by the City of Toledo on Conrad Avenue near the University of Toledo Scott Park campus created a grassed bioretention area in the right of way of a curbless street. The system reduces flooding and manages stormwater with this more natural, green method.

The project was designed by Andy Stepnick at the City of Toledo Division of Engineering. His design collects water in the bioretention area where water slowly infiltrates the ground through engineered soils. What water that does not soak in or is not taken up by the plants may eventually drain into a perforated storm sewer. Infiltration projects reduce runoff peak and volume of stormwater and manage water close to where it falls.

The project was funded by the Ohio EPA through the Surface Water Improvement Fund (SWIF). Other members of the regional Stormwater Coalition have received SWIF grants to help them produce a variety of innovative stormwater management projects.


Before. Water ponds in the street and on the sidewalks.


After. A bioretention area or rain garden (at left) holds stormwater and allows it to infiltrate gradually through engineered soils. Stormwater is treated naturally near where it falls and less water enters the sewer system.

Photos courtesy of City of Toledo Division of Engineering.



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