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New Guidance: Designing Parks and Public Spaces with Green Infrastructure

#Featured Articles,
#Green Infrastructure/Stormwater Management
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Jersey Water Works Staff

The Jersey Water Works Green Infrastructure Committee has released recommendations for designing new parks and public spaces with green infrastructure to manage stormwater.  Green infrastructure features allow parks and public spaces to manage stormwater, control flooding, and improve water quality in ways that complement and can even enhance their other functions.  Green infrastructure features can be especially useful in flood-prone areas and in cities that need to reduce combined sewer overflows.

Green Infrastructure (GI) is a nature-based solution that intercepts stormwater, infiltrates a portion of it into the ground, evaporates a portion of it into the air, and/or captures and stores it, in some cases for reuse or watering and in some cases to release a portion of it slowly back into the sewer system.  Green infrastructure can provide triple-bottom line benefits:  environmental, social, and economic.

The committee’s guidance starts from the premise that parks should always be “parks first” and not merely a place for stormwater management. The primary functions of the park and the needs of the park users should always be considered first, and land managers should identify and integrate stormwater opportunities within the framework of the park master plan and program. Stormwater management should not be “force fit” into a park in any way that diminishes the value of the park for its users.

These recommendations can be also applied to redeveloped or modified parks, pending future support from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. The NJDEP Green Acres regulations that govern existing parks traditionally have been interpreted not to allow park modifications that include stormwater management projects, including green infrastructure. The Jersey Water Works Green Infrastructure Committee has also provided recommendations to the NJDEP to allow for park modifications that incorporate green stormwater management under certain conditions.

The guidance was prepared by Meliora Design, a civil engineering firm specializing in sustainable site design and water resources planning, and was reviewed and released by the Jersey Water Works Green Infrastructure Committee.  

Read the recommendations here.

Photo caption: Hoboken’s Southwest Park, currently under construction, meets neighborhood needs for green space and flood control using bioswales, rain gardens, permeable pavement and underground chambers that can store 200,000 gallons of stormwater runoff.

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