Program uses low-cost sensors to monitor impact of stormwater mitigation systems

University/municipal partnership in Philadelphia aims to improve green infrastructure design.

January 07, 2019 |
Philadelphia Skyline

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A partnership between the Philadelphia Water Department and Drexel University’s Sustainable Water Resource Engineering Lab uses sensors to monitor the effectiveness of green stormwater mitigation systems.

The Green Infrastructure Living Laboratory (GILL) collects real-time data on green infrastructure systems using low-cost sensors. The data, collected at both public and private sites, will eventually inform improvements to green infrastructure design.

The program will aid Philadelphia’s 25-year stormwater mitigation plan that includes wide-scale adoption of green infrastructure to reduce combined sewer overflows into rivers and streams. Researchers are collecting climate data—temperature, precipitation, relative humidity and air pressure—and hydrology data to observe fluctuations in soil moisture, water level, or unit weight.

Among the findings so far: the benefits of green infrastructure systems, such as rainwater harvesting cisterns, have not been well quantified in the past. This means rainwater harvesting cisterns have much potential for businesses and residential buildings as cost-saving systems that manage stormwater and provide non-potable water sources.

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