Greater City Providence

The Magnificent Bioswales & Stormwater Treatment Along the Indy Cultural Trail

With seemingly no end in site to all this rain, and our rivers quickly rising toward and beyond flood stage, this video which takes a look at bioswales, a form of storm water retention is quite timely.

Many American cities are growing to the idea that they need to do a much better job handling their stormwater runoff at ground level. In Indianapolis, they decided to not only do that but significantly green the city along its newly opened Cultural Trail. The 8 mile separated biking and walking route loops thru the heart of the downtown and as you’ll see in this short (expanded from our larger work) Karen S, Haley, the Executive Director of Indianapolis Cultural Trail, tells us a little about the substansial and verdant bioswales they installed.

Imagine if these became standard for roads in some vulnerable-to-storms- U.S. cities?

Jef Nickerson

Jef is Greater City Providence's co-founder, editor, and publisher. He grew up on Cape Cod and lived in Boston; Portland, Maine; and New York before settling in Providence. In addition to urbanism, Jef is interested in art, design, and ice cream. Please feel free to contact Jef if you have any question or comments about Greater City Providence.


  • Here in Providence we do it a little differently. We use CSO too but in our case overflow sewage is diverted to two humungous tunnels under the city. Then it can be processed and treated before being discharged.

    Prior to this they’d just dump excess into the bay. Not a good idea.

  • Even if they do get the drainage problem fixed with the tunnels eventually, I think it’s hard to dismiss the appeal of this kind of green space on our streets. Providence also has a huge problem with streets just sitting in extensive ten-foot puddles, which probably doesn’t affect the bay but does make it hard to walk in the rain.

    Burlington, VT was doing something pretty cool with rain barrels, too. I”ve seen rain barrels for people’s spouts in every place that I’ve lived, but there it seems like they’re really pushing it hard. They’ve got an art program that paints them and puts them on the sidewalk as displays, and they’re about every ten feet in the downtown to let you know that you should get a free rain barrel from the city. Providence should do that too. All you’ve got to do is look at a couple of those ’54 or ’37 Hurricane pictures to remind yourself that the city is in kind of an inconvenient place for when the hard rains come.

Providence, RI
Partly Cloudy
5:29 am8:14 pm EDT
Feels like: 82°F
Wind: 2mph WSW
Humidity: 66%
Pressure: 30.03"Hg
UV index: 0
86°F / 70°F
79°F / 68°F
75°F / 68°F