The approaches and lessons from three pilot projects are applicable to other communities facing similar coastal issues related to stormwater and flooding. The GRIP team used an integrated design process for each case study, which brought together a multidisciplinary group of stakeholders and experts to share their knowledge and experience. The process ensured that multiple goals, functions, and benefits were considered and included in the final designs.
- Oakland Beach, Warwick, RI
- Challenge: Oakland Beach is a recreational, historic, and economic hub for Warwick, attracting numerous swimmers and fisherman. The site has impaired water quality and is vulnerable to coastal flooding, storm surge, and sea level rise. Stormwater runoff from dense development results in frequent beach closures that raise public health, safety, and economic concerns.
- Solution: While larger-scale projects were considered, the GRIP team focused on shorter-term changes that may build support for future retrofits throughout the watershed. Proposed improvements include a rain garden bioretention system, dune enhancement, and installation of solar ‘Big Belly’ trash receptacles to reduce pollution to the Bay.
- Marine Avenue Cliff Walk Access, Newport, RI
- Challenge: Marine Avenue is a popular public access route to the historic Cliff Walk. During storms, runoff from lawns and roads carries nutrients, bacteria, and sediment into the nearby cove. The runoff also erodes the path to the Cliff Walk.
- Solution: A bioretention area that slows flow and intercepts, filters, and infiltrates runoff was designed. The design uses native wildflower and grass mixes instead of stone and woody vegetation to reduce maintenance burden and enhance aesthetics and habitat values.
- Brown Street Parking Lot, Wickford, North Kingstown, RI
- Challenge: The parking lot in Wickford Village supports the local economy and recreation. It is vulnerable to flooding during extreme high tides, rain events and coastal storms. Untreated stormwater drains from the parking lot to the harbor; the substrate is likely not suitable for infiltration. Sea level rise and increased storm intensity will exacerbate these issues. The parking lot has multiple owners, both public and private.
- Solution: This location offers no easy solution. The GRIP team considered short- and medium-term options (20-year design life) while long-term options are explored. The team recommended regrading selected low areas, modifying catch basins and outlet pipes, and installing elements of green infrastructure where feasible. The design also enhances access to the waterfront and public space while maintaining the parking lot’s parking capacity.