Hosted by the Chesapeake Stormwater Network, the Best Urban BMP in the Bay Awards (BUBBAs) recognizes the best urban stormwater management practices (techniques, measures or structural controls used to manage the quantity and improve the quality of stormwater runoff) that have been installed in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The reconstruction of the intersection at Plum and Walnut Streets was nominated for the BUBBA as an Ultra-urban BMP. Ultra-urban BMPs are stormwater practices built in infill or redevelopment projects in urban areas with more than 75% site impervious cover.
To put it simply, the old intersection was dangerous and uninspiring. Now, the same intersection is safer, with a 5 MPH reduction in average traffic speed, and features rain gardens, a new porous patio for the Lancaster Brewing Company, and a multi-tasking public art project. Best of all, this entire project manages 1.7 million gallons annually and keeps it out of the city’s over burdened combined sewer system.
All of the new elements of the intersection keep excess stormwater from reaching the sewer system. The rain gardens are full of native shrubs, perennials, ornamental grasses and new tree species, and the patio is made of permeable pavers. These components allow stormwater, which would otherwise flow into the Conestoga River and all the way to the Chesapeake Bay, to soak into the ground and be treated by the natural filtration and microbial action within the soils below the area. The public art installation, the Lancaster Gateway Bundle, includes a 700 gallon cistern that collects stormwater runoff from the roof of the Lancaster Brewing Company. This cistern serves both as public art and as irrigation for planters where the brewery grows some of their own produce.
After the project was named Best Ultra-Urban BMP, it went up against projects that placed first place in other categories, like Best Innovative BMP and Best Homeowner BMP. Online voting took place to name the “ultimate” first place winner, and 1851 votes were cast. The reconstruction of the intersection of Plum and Walnut Streets received over 800 of those votes, making the City of Lancaster the grand prize winner of $5,000!