AEC and State College Borough Continue to Grow Stormwater Partnership

Posted: October 14, 2015

This fall, ERM Students, the AEC and the State College Borough partnered for a rain garden planting to reduce stormwater flow on Barnard Street.
Two ERM students work together to plant a Dogwood.

Two ERM students work together to plant a Dogwood.

In September, the State College Borough and Penn State Agriculture and Environment Center (AEC) partnered to solve stormwater issues on Barnard Street and Beaver Avenue in downtown State College, Pennsylvania.

Kelly Doyle, Environmental AmeriCorps member for the State College Borough, Emily Newman, intern at the AEC, and Alan Sam, the State College Borough Arborist and Environmental Coordinator, teamed with three Enviornmental Resource Management (ERM) students to create a solution that is beneficial for water quality, aesthetically pleasing, and creates a conversation piece.

rain garden volunteers

Volunteers and Kelly Doyle, Environmental AmeriCorps member pose for a picture.

Stormwater is an issue in many cities due to impervious surfaces. State College is no exception, and the intersection of Barnard and Beaver is a prime example. Stormwater from rainstorms flows from campus, north of the location down the street and directly into a storm drain that leads to Spring Creek. The water that flows down the street picks up any sediment, debris and toxins that are on the road and brings them along for the ride.


Before the rain garden was planted.

The Borough developed a solution: a rain garden. A rain garden is a small area of native plants, usually dug into ground, to provide a culvert for water to be stored. Instead of water flowing directly into the storm drain, the water will now flow into rocks which will slow down the speed. From there, the water will find its way into one of six culverts where plants will soak it up or it will naturally flow through the soil profile.

Plants were chosen based on their tolerance of wet conditions. They can handle heavy amounts of water and thrive in environments like rain gardens. Purple Cone Flowers, Northern Sea Oats, Dragon’s Blood Sedum, Elijah Blue Fescue, Red Oiser Dogwood and Variegated Sedum were the plants selected for the Barnard/Beaver rain garden. AEC and ERM student volunteers worked with Borough staff to plant the plants, which provide natural benefits to the environment and also are aesthetically pleasing for those who live nearby. 

After-raingarden planting

After the rain garden was planted.

The next time you're downtown State College, check out the rain garden on the corner of Barnard Street and Beaver Avenue!