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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

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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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.

 

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