Smart Stormwater Solutions: A look at Forest Park in St. Louis
By: Jordan Wilkinson, PLA
This week, DG2 attended The Shaw Series Forest Park Stormwater Salon – a continuing education bus tour and discussion that highlighted several recent and ongoing stormwater solutions throughout Forest Park. If you are not familiar with the Shaw Series for Stormwater, these events provide a great opportunity for Landscape Architects, designers, Engineers, contractors, and anyone interested to learn about current practices for stormwater management throughout our area. The series hosts several a handful of events and tours throughout the year.
Our first stop on the tour this week stopped at a site that the Designers and Landscape Architects at DG2 are very familiar with – The Festival & Parking Plaza above the Muny. DG2 worked to complete a design for the parking lot that incorporates a series of bio-retention cells which capture runoff from the parking lot. These cells are heavily planted with a mixture of trees, shrubs, and native perennials. Curb cuts along the parking stalls allow the controlled flow of stormwater to enter these cells, where plant material slows down velocities and filters out pollutants. It was great to see that most species appear to be thriving nearly 2 years after their install. Stormwater from this project area ultimately feeds into the larger Hidden Creek Savanna, and later Deer Lake.
Further ‘downstream’ from the Muny parking lot, lies the beautifully restored Hidden Creek Savanna. This 3 acre site is a great example of some of the habitat restoration the talented professionals at Forest Park Forever are implementing throughout Forest Park. This area was formerly mowed grass and large trees, but now contains more than 100 species of native plants that are controlled by prescribed burning. The Hidden Creek Savanna also acts as a large filter controlling runoff to the small creek that bisects its site.
Curb cut out at the Muny parking lot
Thriving mix of native species
Our next stop on the tour took us by 2 newly retrofitted bio-retention cells that filter the upstream flows into Jefferson Lake. There are a total of 3 bio-retention cells here, and the 2 lower cells have just been retrofitted, with plans to plant them with native plugs this fall. This system of smart stormwater solutions helps to keep Jefferson Lake clean and clear.
Our final drive-by took us by the recently finished curb cuts and bio-retention cells along Government Drive. This stretch of roadway within the park has been improved with new sidewalks, pavement striping, raised crosswalks, and site furnishings among others. The focus of our discussion was on the series of curb cuts that are designed to divert water from the gutters along the road, into bio-retention cells. These cells contain plants, soil matrix, and aggregate sub-base layers to allow stormwater to infiltrate into the ground.
It was inspiring to see all of these great solutions in one place at one time. Forest Park Forever, the nonprofit conservancy for Forest Park, does a great job restoring native habitats throughout the park. They area also crucial to the success of these smart stormwater solutions through their stewardship and maintenance of these systems. If you haven’t been to Forest Park lately, you should go – and take a closer look around you and you might recognize some of these smart stormwater solutions.