Go Green — New Infrastructure

Buffers, wetlands, and green roofs, hooray! Green infrastructure, the use of soil and plants to filter and treat water on-site, is really catching on. This includes preserving natural landscape features like streamside buffer zones as well as well as recreating landscape features by using techniques like rain gardens and swales.

Green infrastructure works to help keep stormwater runoff from causing flooding problems and sewer overflows and can save energy and cool buildings, as well as providing an aesthetic benefit for communities. Additionally, these natural systems provide communities with added resilience to mitigate the changes we’ll face in a warming world.

As a way to translate these ideas into action, EPA just released their Managing Wet Weather with Green Infrastructure Action Strategy of which American Rivers is a partner. The strategy includes goals for how to incorporate green infrastructure into permit requirements for combined sewer overflows and stormwater – Washington D.C. has already incorporated these measures into their new stormwater permit, including tree planting and green roofs. New federal buildings will also be using more green infrastructure as a result of a new provision of the Energy Act.

And just in time, too. The recent Clean Watershed Needs Survey shows that $9.0 billion is needed for storm water management nationwide alone – green infrastructure is looking like a smart investment as well a good looking one.