Green Infrastructure Helps Manage Runoff, Reduce Flood Damages

Street flooding in Detter Mill, PAJust a few months ago the Susquehanna and Delaware basins in Pennsylvania were sustaining the worst flooding since record-breaking Hurricane Agnes hit in ’72. Today, the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania’s Patriot News reports that the Susquehanna is recording levels that match record drought years of 1910 and 1946.

Extreme conditions define climate change and require adaptation practices. The Pennsylvania Climate Change Advisory Committee has accepted a plan [PDF] from experts in natural resources, health, recreation and infrastructure to address adaptation to climate change. A prevailing recommendation is for widespread use of green infrastructure practices to provide safe environments, healthy water and reduce flood impacts. 

American Rivers’ latest report provides good news for river communities affected by extreme weather conditions—green infrastructure is a cost effective investment that can help to manage smaller and more frequent storms that erode streamside property, threaten infrastructure, and carry sediment and other pollutants downstream.  

In Minnesota one highly urbanized community where stormwater contributed to flooding, green infrastructure solutions were chosen because they were 45% less costly than conventional, gray infrastructure solutions. The project resulted in achievement of flow reduction goals thus alleviating flood damages. An added benefit was greater than anticipated pollution reduction. Read more case studies for communities across the country where flood damage reduction benefits are being realized with green infrastructure practices.

In Pennsylvania, more and more Susquehanna River [PDF] communities are looking toward green infrastructure solutions within their long-term plans for recovery from the 2011 floods. Green infrastructure can be a solution for small communities such as Shickshinny, revitalizing communities such as the Lower Susquehanna gateway communities of Wrightsville, Columbia and Marietta [PDF].