Take a drive (or better yet, a walk) through the Warehouse District in downtown Peoria and you’ll see an example of our hopes for a green future in action. What you might mistake for new planters or landscaping is actually green infrastructure designed to keep stormwater out of our sewer system and the Illinois River.

The two-block-long Adams Street pilot project between Persimmon and Pecan streets features bioswales, rain gardens and permeable pavers to retain water — and it’s working. The project site, which absorbs water from three and a half acres downtown, removed 638,000 gallons of water from the combined sewer system during its first six months on the job. Here’s how:

Bioswales catch rain flowing off hard surfaces like sidewalks and then channel it into a dry well through a system of gravel and rocks. Plants and tree roots help absorb water.

Rain gardens — essentially depressed planter beds — retain water and keep it out of the sewers.

Permeable pavers act like sponges, absorbing water that traditional pavement cannot.

We’re monitoring results from the project through electronic devices that measure the flow rate through the system — and we’ll apply what we learn from this pilot as we put more green infrastructure in place citywide.