Alex Kuffner The Providence Journal
PROVIDENCE — A network of streams and ponds once cut through the East Side of Providence. When rain fell, runoff followed the topography down through a watershed that encompassed the area around what is now Blackstone Boulevard.
Some of the water seeped into the ground, depositing dirt and debris along the way, while the rest kept flowing, going down paths through narrow gullies before emptying into the Seekonk River and continuing on into Narragansett Bay.
That natural system is all but gone now, covered by buildings and streets. As for the rainwater, it’s been channeled underground, into storm drains and through pipes…
The Woonasquatucket River was still running high and fast two days after the rains.
In Riverside Park, in the Olneyville section of Providence, the rainwater that ran down Aleppo Street was channeled into a bioswale that snakes through the park and looks more like a creekbed than a manmade drainage structure.
The previous morning, the channel was full, but it and other so-called green infrastructure projects in the park did their job, collecting runoff from the surrounding neighborhood, sieving out solids and toxins and sending excess water into the Woonasquatucket…