So, it rained today. For many of us living in Glen Echo we know this means that the storm sewers will overflow, our stream waters will rise, the park might flood, trash will wash down from I-71 and across from Linden and get stuck in the young willows that line the banks, and that it is probably a good idea to keep your children and dogs away from the water for a few days (or at least until the smell subsides). The ravine is usually pretty empty during a rain, and for good reason, but I’ve been wanting to get some pictures of the ravine during a rain event to post here because, quite frankly, it is shocking.

The video is a bit long, nearly 10 minutes, but it documents how Glen Echo Drive north of the Arcadia bridge turns into an intermittent stream during even just a moderate rain.

 

Neighborhood lore tells that until the late 70s you could drive a car down what is now the 4th Street service road through the park and up Glen Echo Drive to Hudson Street. When we moved to the neighborhood in late 2009, it was a heavy gravel road used only by city service vehicles. Today, remnants of a road remain but it is not currently drivable, even for a service vehicle. Yet it remains, technically, a city street. It is in limbo — not park, not street, not stream. You can walk it, but it is rough, rocky. The water has a done its work. To anyone traveling this “road” it is quickly obvious how the ravine was formed in the first place. It is actually quite beautiful. But the storm water flows too fast, carrying pollutants and sediment to the stream, and the wooded hillsides are quickly eroding. The little ravine not only channels water from Glen Echo Drive, but is also the receptacle for storm water coming off a large section of Arcadia Avenue, which dumps off the bridge with surprising force. The new downspout (added when the bridge was repaired in 2011) actually shoots turbid water from its clean-out pipe, and more water spits up from a half-buried manhole at the foot of the bridge.

The path through the park just before the Indianola bridge and the bird mural is continually washed out by the intermittent stream that flows down this forgotten portion of Glen Echo Drive. Efforts to pave it are undermined almost immediately. Before the city or community invests any more money in the path through Glen Echo Park, something must be done to resolve the underlying stormwater issues.

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