Most people are familiar with “gray” water infrastructure, which includes 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 provide good local jobs, while making the communities where they’re installed healthier and more vibrant.
Both gray and green infrastructure are important components of water infrastructure systems across the state. Communities with combined sewer systems, in particular, will be evaluating gray and green infrastructure approaches to identify the best combination that meets regulatory requirements cost-effectively and in a manner that provides tangible community benefits.