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Effective Green & Gray Infrastructure

Most people are familiar with “gray” water infrastructure — the hard, concrete and metal pipes, holding tanks, pumps, water tunnels, and treatment plants. These systems play a key role in managing drinking water, wastewater and combined-sewer systems.

“Green” infrastructure is a newer approach to stormwater management that mimics nature by capturing stormwater so it can either be reused or seep into the ground where it falls, rather than flowing into underground sewer and storm pipes. Methods for stormwater capture include rain gardens, pervious pavement, planted swales, and storage containers such as cisterns and rain barrels. Green-infrastructure features can help reduce stress on water systems and can provide good local jobs, as well as making the communities where they’re installed healthier and more beautiful.

Both gray and green infrastructure are important components of water infrastructure systems statewide. Communities with combined sewer systems in particular will be evaluating gray- and green-infrastructure approaches to come up with the best combination that meets regulatory requirements cost-effectively and in a manner that provides tangible community benefits.

Resources

Roxanne Qualls presentation on Cincinnati’s Water Infrastructure

This powerpoint by Roxanne Qualls, former mayor of Cincinnati, describes metropolitan Cincinnati’s holistic approach to drinking water, wastewater and stormwater including its successful programs to resolve combined sewer overflows. 2014.

Scalable Solutions to Local Challenges

This practical toolkit, which features scalable tools and design templates, aims to help municipal managers and decision-makers begin the process of exploring and implementing green infrastructure. 2015.

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