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.
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.
New Jersey A•I•M•S4
New Jersey Advanced and Integrated Menu of Strategies for Sustainable Sewer and Stormwater Systems (NJ A•I•M•S4)
This downloadable resource for sewer and stormwater infrastructure system managers, was developed by Jersey Water Works members to offer a menu of strategies for managing sewer and stormwater systems that achieve better results at lower cost. The guide is flexible, and seeks to offer options for a diverse range of communities and managers of sewer and stormwater infrastructure, who know their enterprise best and can assess the applicability, impact, affordability and political feasibility of each action.
The New Jersey A•I•M•S4 program includes:
- A Guide to Options for Effective Sewer and Stormwater Management; and
- A Strategy Checklist with action steps, methods, and resources from which communities, utilities or municipalities that own, maintain and operate sewer and stormwater infrastructure can select to improve cost efficiency, deliver better environmental and community benefits, track progress and link to resources; and
- A Crosswalk to NJDEP CSO Permit Requirements
Harvesting the Value of Water: Stormwater, Green Infrastructure, and Real Estate
This Urban Land Institute report analyzes the stormwater policy landscape and summarizes various real estate developments that have arisen in response. Real estate case studies from across the country demonstrate a range of stormwater policies, featuring management innovations as well as positive financial, operational or design outcomes.
Harvesting the Value of Water: Stormwater, Green Infrastructure, and Real Estate (Urban Land Institute)
Spurring Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Stormwater Markets
This paper from Natural Resources Defense Council summarizes NRDC’s review of Philadelphia Water Department’s Greened Acre Retrofit Program (GARP). GARP encourages contractors or design and construction firms to compete for limited public grant funding by aggregating and presenting the lowest-cost retrofit opportunities available on private land. The availability of public dollars through GARP is intended to create a competitive green infrastructure market that can help PWD source low-cost stormwater management. NRDC helped PWD evaluate the program structure to make it easier for local firms to submit GARP applications.
Spurring Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Stormwater Markets (Natural Resources Defense Council)