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Successful and Beneficial Green 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

Menu of State Policy Options for Green Infrastructure

This document produced by the U.S. Green Building Council, Menu of State Policy Options for Green Infrastructure, is an introduction to leading policy practices to harness the benefits of green infrastructure and achieve greater sustainability outcomes through high-performing buildings and infrastructure. The resource can help state legislatures take decisive action to expand green infrastructure practices.

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Working with the Market: Economic Instruments to Support Investment in Green Stormwater Infrastructure

This report, Working with the Market: Economic Instruments to Support Investment in Green Stormwater Infrastructure, will help stormwater program managers leverage market forces to drive implementation and investment in green infrastructure that meets their needs. Over the next 20 years, communities across the U.S. are likely to invest upwards of $150 billion to manage stormwater infrastructure and the associated impacts on water quality, hydrology, and health.  It was developed as a product of the 2016 fall dialogue hosted by the National Network on Water Quality Trading, written in partnership with Storm & Stream Solutions LLC, and with collaboration from WEF’s Stormwater Institute.

Working with the Market: Economic Instruments to Support Investment in Green Stormwater Infrastructure. Read the full report or the summary handout.

 

Storm Smart Cities: Integrating Green Infrastructure into Local Hazard Mitigation Plans

This guide, Storm Smart Cities: Integrating Green Infrastructure into Local Hazard Mitigation Plans, is a case study of Huntington, West Virginia and early efforts to consider how green infrastructure could be incorporated into local hazard mitigation plans.  It follows a partnership of local, state, and federal organizations and their collaborative effort to address local flooding and protect water quality.  While the effort is ongoing, the Storm Smart Cities guide captures some early lessons learned that can benefit other communities interested in pursuing a similar approach.  It includes recommendations for communities on integrating green infrastructure into local hazard mitigation plans.

Step-by-Step Guide to Integrating Community Input into Green Infrastructure Projects

ELI and its partner Amigos Bravos drafted this Guide to Integrating Community Input into Green Infrastructure Projects to help local governments integrate community input into their green infrastructure projects. It sets out eight steps that local governments can take and, for each step, provides details and tips to help local governments as they move through the process.

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.

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