Over the past few weeks we have fielded a number of questions regarding the peculiar concrete planters that have appeared on Elmwood Avenue from Forest to Bird. Back in May we reported that rain gardens were coming to Elmwood (see here).
As of now the green features have been installed, and plants are growing. The progressive green initiative might look a bit bizarre to someone who isn’t familiar with the project, and since the plants inside the containers are small at this point, the appearance of the gardens might not look as flattering as they will once the greenery grows.
The project is the byproduct of a partnership between Riverkeeper and the Buffalo Sewer Authority. As you can see in the diagram below, the planters are designed to capture storm water runoff from the street and sidewalks, in order to divert water away from Buffalo’s outdated sewer system. Our combined sewer systems are a major cause of pollution in our waterways – when too much water flows into the treatment facility (after a heavy storm), a combination of rain water and raw sewage is released into waterways in order to alleviate the build up.
The Green Streets pilot project that we see here is an example of collecting water before it enters the sewers. The system also waters the plants that add an attractive feature to public streets.