Green infrastructure is a cost-effective, resilient way to manage our stormwater that provides lots of community benefits. This practice reduces and treats stormwater at its source while provided environmental, social, and economic benefits. Stormwater runoff is a major contributor of water pollution in urban areas. When precipitation falls onto our streets, roofs, and parking lots, it does not immediately soak into the ground. As it travels to our infrastructure system, it collects trash, bacteria and other pollutants. Also, higher amounts of urban water flow can cause erosion and flooding in our streams, damaging natural habitats, property and infrastructure. When precipitation falls in undeveloped areas, it is absorbed into the ground and filtered by plants and soil. The stormwater runoff is cleaner and less of an issue.
Green infrastructure uses plants, soils and other elements and practices to restore some of the natural processes to manage stormwater. This can create healthier urban environments. Green infrastructure on a larger scale can create areas that provide habitats, flood protection, cleaner air and water. On a smaller scale, it can create stormwater management systems that replicate nature by soaking up and storing water.
Rain Gardens: Rain gardens are engineered landscape features that capture and reduce stormwater runoff. This allows stormwater to be kept on the property and allows the water to infiltrate into the ground, rather than to a nearby ditch or stream. A small depressed area is filled with soil and plants that are able act as a natural filter for any pollutants. Water is collected in the rain garden and the natural plants and roots act as a filter. Some benefits include:
- Improvement of water quality;
- Help alleviate flooding and drainage issues;
- Enhances individual yards and communities;
- Provides a natural habitat for wildlife;
- Increases infiltration into the groundwater supply;
- Decreases the amount of impervious surface in developed areas.
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Bioretention Areas: Bioretention areas are engineered water quality devices that temporarily hold, treat and release stormwater runoff. You can think of them as a small dense forest that has a pretreatment and filtration area. The use of peat soil, sand and landscaping creates the ability to filter through pollutants through a variety of materials to clean the runoff before it enters our storm systems and natural waterways.
Permeable Pavement: Permeable pavement, or porous pavement, is a type of pavement that allows water to flow through the pavement and into the ground below the pavement. This special type of pavement is used as a way to filter out pollutants. You can also utilize permeable pavers which interlock to create a porous surface. Permeable pavement can help reduce the cost of salt to de-ice the pavement. Additionally, it can help reduce construction costs as a way to manage stormwater.
Rainwater Harvesting: Rainwater harvesting is a system that allows you to collect and store rainfall for a later use. With the right design, it should slow down and reduce runoff. The water can be used in non-potable applications such as watering flowers, irrigation and agriculture. This helps with a reduction of municipal water use.