Providence Business Manages Stormwater with Trees

StormTree designs and installs stormwater management systems that use common street trees and engineered soil to absorb and treat stormwater. (StormTree)

StormTree designs and installs stormwater management systems that use common street trees and engineered soil to absorb and treat stormwater. (StormTree)

By ecoRI News staff

NORTH SCITUATE, R.I. — A Providence-based business, in partnership with the Northern Rhode Island Conservation District (NRICD), recently completed the installation of three tree-filter systems for stormwater management on the village greens.

Stormwater comes from rain and melting snow that either seeps into the ground or runs off to lower areas, making its way into streams, lakes and other waterbodies such as Narragansett Bay. On its way, particularly along streets and other paved areas, runoff picks up substances such as oils, pesticides, fertilizers, sediment and animal waste, which then pollute those waters. Many Rhode Island waters are negatively impacted by stormwater pollution, from popular beaches in the southern part of the state to the Scituate Reservoir, which is partially located in the North Scituate Village neighborhood.

StormTree designs and installs stormwater management systems that use common street trees and engineered soil to absorb and treat stormwater using a variety of physical, chemical and biological processes. StormTree’s systems consist of small catch basins with a tree inside. A special soil mix in the catch basin filters pollutants from stormwater such as phosphorus and nitrogen, while the tree beautifies the neighborhood and benefits from the water.

“We look forward to making progress in reducing pollution that impacts our local waterways,” said Sandra Tremblay, president of StormTree.

StormTree’s recent installations in North Scituate Village were the final component of the North Scituate Village Stormwater Project. The project, which sought to install a variety of stormwater management devices in a small area adjacent to the Scituate Reservoir, was funded by an Environmental Protection Agency grant.

As part of the project, the partners coordinated the installation of a variety of stormwater management practices over the course of two years. NRICD found seven home and small-business owners who were willing to have stormwater management practices such as rain gardens — small, landscaped depressions that hold stormwater after it rains — installed on their property. These practices will be maintained for three years by NRICD, with time and materials funded through an agreement with Providence Water, which manages the Scituate Reservoir.

Additionally, the town of Scituate installed two large parking lot stormwater systems and replaced the aging septic system at Town Hall. Installation of the tree filters represented the culmination of the stormwater project.

“Tree filters are easy to maintain, aesthetically pleasing and do a great job of reducing phosphorous, nitrogen, as well as other pollutants,” said Gina De Marco, NRICD’s district manager. “This has been an extremely rewarding project to be involved with.”