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NPS explores new stormwater solution; low cost, low maintenance key features

September 11, 2012

Water that used to flow across two parking lots and enter a stormwater drain that discharged into the Delaware River, carrying sediments and contaminants such as oil and grease, will now be cleaner due to installation of a new stormwater filtration system being tested by the National Park Service(NPS).

NPS staff and employees of Fabco Industries, Inc., which designs and installs the systems, were joined by representatives from various agencies and organizations at a demo conducted at the NPS headquarters office in Beach Lake on September 6. Installation was surprisingly simple and swift, taking less than 20 minutes to assemble, insert and customize the final fit of the StormSack filtration system.

NPS superintendent Sean McGuinness recognized the need for inexpensive systems that could be easily installed and maintained in the Upper Delaware River Valley and began researching solutions to the problem. “Stormwater runoff can significantly threaten and impair the health and enjoyment of our nation’s water resources, natural habitats and scenic beauty, and we want to be a leader in finding affordable ways to reduce that impact,” he said.

The system is designed to be installed into existing roadside drains, commonly called catch basins. Located just below the grate, the units capture and filter water as it leaves surrounding surfaces, thereby reducing source pollution.

McGuinness lauded the simplicity, affordability and low maintenance of the unit, which costs approximately $800 and is maintained by vacuuming the geotextile bag at least twice yearly. It was also suggested that maintenance of current stormwater systems could be reduced with the addition of the StormSack unit.

“It really bothered me that we were letting stuff from the parking lot go right into the river,” said McGuinness, who walks past the drain daily. “The concept was to make something simple and affordable that could fit into an existing drain so that communities with tight budgets could focus on the places where the highest potential of pollutants are going into the watershed. This is an opportunity to evaluate a possible solution, show it to others and continue discussing how to protect the river from runoff.”

NPS staff will assess how well the system works, monitor overall costs and consider installing an additional unit at the popular Roebling Bridge where informational signage could be used to educate the public about the importance of stormwater filtration to water quality.