Lessons Learned from San Francisco’s First Stormwater Schoolyard
In 2014, the SFPUC’s Urban Watershed Management Program staff initiated its first large-scale stormwater schoolyard project in partnership with San Francisco Unified School District. This project served a pilot to test implementation and impact of stormwater schoolyards in San Francisco. Working collaboratively with the local school district, the SFPUC provided funding, technical assistance and hosted training and design workshops to optimize the investment’s value for stormwater management and watershed health while employing best practices in design for children’s learning and play.
Schools offer a significant opportunity to manage stormwater in an urban environment. They are typically large impervious parcels designed for minimal maintenance and contributing polluted runoff and offering little for children’s development. Green stormwater Infrastructure on schoolyards can provide opportunities to manage large amounts of stormwater runnoff while providing important co-benefits of increased green space on schoolyards.
The agency had recently developed a strategic vision for watershed transformation using green infrastructure (GI) and community feedback and the physical analysis showed that schools with their large parcels and impervious cover were ideal locations for GI projects. At the same time, staff had been reviewing stormwater control plans at schools that were resulting in losses of playable spaces and facilities that were likely to fail due to the intensive nature of children’s play. The team felt that these projects could be improved and launched a project to showcase what could be done. The Stevenson Stormwater Schoolyard was the first test of fully integrated stormwater schoolyard designs, funding and teams. The SFPUC supported this project by bringing in technical experts from Europe, hosting design workshops and providing ongoing technical assistance and project management. The project will finish construction in August 2018 and team will share their lessons learned from planning through construction, specifically lessons learned from integrating the goals of stormwater management in children’s environment, cross agency teams, funding and operations and maintenance considerations.
Participants facing new Phase II MS4 permit requirements on schoolyards will benefit from case studies where communities are harnessing regulatory requirements and re-purposing them into new spaces and places that better serve both the community and the environment. Audience members will enjoy an interactive discussion between panelists and audience members and watch clips of the training workshop and inspiring examples from Berlin, Germany.
Sarah Bloom is a watershed planner with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission focusing on the execution of green stormwater infrastructure programs and projects. She is currently leading the development of the agency’s first large-scale green infrastructure grant program and serves as the SFPUC representative on many inter-agency, citywide planning efforts. Sarah began her career with the NYC Department of Environmental Protection, where she worked on the implementation of NYC’s Green Infrastructure Program. She holds a Master of Science in City and Regional Planning from Pratt Institute.
Rosey Jencks, Vice President One Water NorCal, Brown and Caldwell, specializes in urban watershed planning and stormwater management. Prior to joining BC, Rosey served as a program manager at San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC), where she provided strategic direction to local practices and supported regional and local initiatives that advance innovation in the field. She was responsible for overseeing the award-winning Living Machine at the SFPUC headquarters -- the first building-scale sewage treatment system in San Francisco. Also at SFPUC, Rosey recently led the Urban Watershed Assessment, a multi-disciplinary watershed and collection system planning project focused on integrated flood management, combined sewer overflow reduction, and integration of stormwater management in urban design and city policies.