Runoff from stormwater can be a major contributor to water pollution in urban areas, transporting trash, heavy metals, bacteria and other contaminants through our storm systems into local waterways. An increase in hard surfaces combined with increasing frequency in rainstorms and intensity can result in flooding that damages property and infrastructure.
Traditional storm systems use “gray” infrastructure – systems comprised of gutters and pipes designed to move stormwater away from where we live as quickly as possible, typically being discharged into local waterbodies untreated. However, increasing rates of development and aging systems are posing a threat to the existing capacity of traditional systems. To combat these effects, many communities are utilizing green infrastructure to sustain their capacity to manage stormwater, increasing community resiliency while producing environmental, social and economic benefits for their residents.
Green infrastructure is a stormwater management approach that protects and restores our natural resources by collecting and infiltrating runoff in a way that mimics natural processes. This is achieved through utilizing plant or soil systems, permeable surfaces and substrates, stormwater harvest and reuse, and even naturalized landscaping to restore, infiltrate and evapotranspirate stormwater to reduce flows to the storm system and ultimately our surface waters. Green infrastructure can be incorporated into a community at any scale – ranging from residential rain gardens, tree plantings along city streets, bioretention systems at community parks, or even riparian setback requirements. When implemented throughout a community, green infrastructure can provide significant value through creating beautiful green spaces, flood protection, diverse habitats and stormwater pretreatment.