On October 19th, Capital Region Water and the City of Harrisburg began the fifth and final Parks Improvement Project in an ongoing series of upgrades. Thanks in part to funding from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and PENNVEST, this collaboration will renovate the 4th & Dauphin Park with the design to capture and manage stormwater from the surrounding area.  In addition to improved site amenities including concrete sidewalks, ADA parking stalls, and new playground equipment, construction will include green stormwater management elements. Rain gardens, a pervious basketball court, and restored vegetation will complement less visible infrastructure improvements such as drainage structures, catch basins, and storm sewer pipes.

These projects are part of Capital Region Water’s City Beautiful H2O Program to renew aging infrastructure, improve the health of local waterways, and reduce combined sewer overflows. Over half of Harrisburg’s sewer pipes are part of a combined sewer system, where polluted stormwater runoff and sewage are conveyed in the same pipe for treatment. In wet weather, stormwater flows exceed system capacity, discharging the mixture into Paxton Creek or the Susquehanna River. In addition to the combined system, Capital Region Water is also responsible for the stormwater-wastewater system that uses separate stormwater piping from those pipes that carry sanitary flow to the Advanced Wastewater Treatment Facility. The entire system (combined or separate) requires stormwater management practices to comply with regulatory requirements, including but not limited to pollutant reduction plans necessary to improve water quality in Paxton Creek, the Susquehanna River, and the Chesapeake Bay.

When completed, the parks will still be maintained by the City of Harrisburg, but the green stormwater infrastructure will be handled by Capital Region Water to ensure proper operation for stormwater management. Construction is slated to be completed spring/summer of 2021.

The green infrastructure elements at work in our local parks help to capture runoff before entering the combined sewer systems. Residents can expect to see ongoing infrastructure improvements throughout the City. This month, Capital Region Water has implemented a stormwater fee in the City of Harrisburg. The stormwater fee is the most equitable approach to address stormwater issues as it is an assessment of the amount of stormwater runoff from an individual property. It is necessary for the overall goal of improving the health of local waterways and reducing combined sewer overflows. The stormwater fee will appear on monthly bills issued on October 25th, 2020.  Residents interested in experiencing completed park improvement projects are encouraged to visit the Cloverly Heights, Penn & Sayford, Royal Terrace, or Norwood & Holly Park.

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