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Holistically Analyzing the Benefits of Green Infrastructure

This document is intended for smaller local governments with stormwater programs that are responsible for regulatory compliance with municipal separate storm sewer system obligations. It outlines an approach to holistically evaluate the benefits of implementing green infrastructure. The guidance places emphasis on first understanding the goal and scope for assessing benefits. It uses the goal and scope to step the user through: (1) differentiating between direct benefits and co-benefits of GI, and (2) understanding when and how these benefits need to be characterized, quantified or monetized.

The report is organized into three sections with attachments.

  1. The first section introduces the concept of green infrastructure and describes some of the most common GI practices.
  2. The second section discusses the range of benefits and co-benefits often attributed to GI.
  3. The third section outlines an approach to assessing the benefits.
  4. Finally,the attachments provide case studies that illustrate how this guidance can be used.

Joint Legislative Task Force on Drinking Water Infrastructure’s Final Report

The Joint Legislative Task Force on Drinking Water Infrastructure convened on Jan. 8 and voted unanimously to adopt the findings and recommendations in its report.

In response to concerns over the condition of the State’s drinking water infrastructure, on Jun. 30, 2016 the Legislature passed Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 86 and Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. 161, establishing the Joint Legislative Task Force on Drinking Water Infrastructure. The task force was charged with studying and making recommendations concerning issues related to drinking water infrastructure in New Jersey, and identifying both short-term and long-term solutions to address the quality and condition of drinking water infrastructure in the State. Read the Joint Legislative Task Force on Drinking Water Infrastructure’s final report.

Pursuant to these resolutions, the task force held three public hearings at the State House Annex in Trenton, New Jersey on Nov. 30, 2016, Dec. 14, 2016, and Jan. 26, 2017. At the first two hearings, the task force took testimony from invited guests on the current condition of the State’s drinking water infrastructure, what improvements are necessary to ensure a safe and adequate drinking water supply, and potential funding mechanisms for those improvements. At the third hearing, the task force took testimony from invited guests and members of the public on the issue of lead in drinking water. Transcripts for these hearings, including written testimony submitted by witnesses, are available on the Legislature’s website.

During its deliberations, the task force took testimony from a wide variety of government agencies, stakeholders, and experts in the field of water infrastructure, as well as members of the public. Over two dozen witnesses testified before the task force, including representatives from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the New Jersey  Environmental Infrastructure Trust (NJEIT), the New Jersey Department of Education (DOE), and the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU); investor-owned utilities, municipal utilities, and utilities authorities; nonprofit scientific and educational organizations; environmental advocacy groups; and the academic community. The input the task force received from witnesses serves as the basis for the findings and recommendations in this report.


Factors Contributing to the Hydrologic Effectiveness of a Rain Garden Network (Cincinnati OH USA)

U.S. EPA researcher Bill Shuster and his co-authors recently published a paper titled, Factors Contributing to the Hydrologic Effectiveness of a Rain Garden Network (Cincinnati OH USA). The paper is one of two included in a special issue of Infrastructures that focuses on green infrastructure.

Infiltrative rain gardens can add retention capacity to sewersheds, yet factors contributing to their capacity for detention and redistribution of stormwater runoff are dynamic and often unverified. Over a four-year period, the team tracked whole-system water fluxes in a two-tier rain garden network and assessed near-surface hydrology and soil development across construction and operational phases. Overall, the study identified factors relevant to regulation of retention capacity of a rain garden network. These factors may be generalizable, and guide improvement of new or existing rain garden designs.

Great Urban Parks Campaign Resources

The National Recreation and Park Association in cooperation with the American Planning Association and the Low Impact Development Center as part of the Great Urban Parks Campaign has produced a number of new resources on green infrastructure stormwater management in parks and on public lands. (Click link to access resources.)

These downloadable resources include:

  • a Resource Guide to Planning, Designing and Implementing Green Infrastructure in Parks;
  • three briefing papers;
  • and four case studies organized by topic on green infrastructure projects in parks in Atlanta, Baltimore, Denver and Pittsburgh.

There are other resources including downloadable infographics, links to a webinar series on GI in parks, and related reports and articles about green infrastructure in parks. This suite of resources will be of interest to anyone working on green infrastructure stormwater management projects on public lands or in parks.