These photos document the initiation of our newly funded research project in collaboration with the City of Lancaster, PA to determine the drivers of variation in rain garden performance. Please see the project description below. Photos by Deb Grove
Project Title: Getting to the bottom of green infrastructure’s dirty secrets: Determining what drives variation in rain garden performance in the city of Lancaster, PA*
Stormwater runoff, a common environmental challenge on the east coast of the U.S., often overwhelms treatment facilities leading to pollutant runoff into ecologically and economically critical watersheds, such as the Chesapeake Bay. Green infrastructure (GI), has become an attractive solution to mitigate the effects of stormwater runoff since these design features, including street trees, rain gardens and green roofs, provide a number of ecosystem benefits and are more cost effective than the installation of underground containment facilities. Lancaster, PA has embraced the installation of GI- to date there are over 130 rain gardens throughout this small city. While grant funds were provided to the city for the installation of the gardens, no such funds exist to evaluate the performance of these installations which has been the focus of our research.
Our research collaboration with the City of Lancaster began in 2015 and since then, Dr. Gotsch and her students have taken part in a number of projects focused on Green Infrastructure. The street tree work has focused on the ability of street trees to intercept water and particulates as well as to transpire water rapidly following a rain event. Results of some of that work can be found here. More recently, Gotsch and her students have been evaluating the performance of raingardens in the City of Lancaster. Our rain garden work began in the summer of 2019 with a student-led project and then grew in the spring semester of 2021 in Gotsch's class, Plants & the Environment. Students measured the infiltration rate in the gardens and also measured a number of traits in each of the gardens to determine the drivers of performance. This work is ongoing and will continue through 2022. Our collaboration has provided research experiences in Gotsch's classes and provides independent study opportunities for students looking to participate on research projects in the urban environment.
*More information can be found in this recent F&M article and podcast produced by the Center for Sustained Engagement with Lancaster.
Below-Pictures from 2015 Urban Ecohydrology class- students build and deployed stemflow, throughfall and sap flow sensors on park trees in the City of Lancaster, PA