Green Infrastructure is Cheaper and Better for Stormwater Control: Study

Jun 21, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- A research team led by the University of Illinois at Chicago has advised the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to phase in green infrastructure requirements for better and cheaper control of stormwater in all new development and redevelopment.

Green infrastructure uses natural systems to reduce pollutants in urban stormwater and to reduce the flow of stormwater into lakes and streams, says Martin Jaffe, UIC associate professor of urban planning and policy.

The research team analyzed permeable pavement, , constructed wetlands, on-site stormwater filtration systems and other green means of controlling stormwater.

"Impervious surfaces like roofs and pavements keep rain from recharging our groundwater," Jaffe said. "The stormwater becomes runoff, which causes erosion, sewer overflow, sedimentation and pollution, and threatens both human and ecosystem health.

"Our conventional stormwater systems -- structures such as curbs and gutters, detention ponds and storm sewers -- are inadequate to handle the stormwater that will result from future development. In some places, those systems are inadequate for our current needs."

Green infrastructure recharges groundwater, improves air quality, moderates temperatures, saves energy, and increases open space for recreation and wildlife habitat, according to the report. It can be 25 percent less costly than conventional stormwater management over its life cycle, and is more adaptable to changing conditions.

The researchers recommended:

-A statewide minimum standard for urban runoff, which could be adjusted to address site conditions

-Phasing in green infrastructure practices over a number of years, as the state has done for renewable energy

-Requiring green practices in new development, redevelopment, and major maintenance, repair and replacement projects by public and private parties

-Earmarking funds for green infrastructure projects in revolving loan funds, and developing a transparent method to prioritize these projects

-Encouraging county and municipal agencies to charge fees for managing and maintaining stormwater facilities, crediting the use of green infrastructure practices against such fees.

The Illinois EPA has posted the report at www.epa.state.il.us/green-infr… structure/index.html , under "draft final report," for comment prior to submitting its own report and recommendations to the Illinois General Assembly by June 30.

Explore further: Big data confirms climate extremes are here to stay

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

EPA's stormwater program needs a significant overhaul

Oct 15, 2008

Radical changes to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's stormwater program are necessary to reverse degradation of fresh water resources and ensure progress toward the Clean Water Act's goal of "fishable and swimmable" ...

Aquatic life declines at early stages of urban development

Jun 03, 2010

The number of native fish and aquatic insects, especially those that are pollution sensitive, declines in urban and suburban streams at low levels of development — levels often considered protective for stream communities, ...

Urban trees enhance water infiltration

Nov 19, 2008

Global land use patterns and increasing pressures on water resources demand creative urban stormwater management. Traditional stormwater management focuses on regulating the flow of runoff to waterways, but generally does ...

Paving the way for green roads

Feb 21, 2008

Kevin Gardner sees green roads right around the corner. “A lot of the infrastructure in this country needs to be re-built,” says Gardner, University of New Hampshire associate professor of civil engineering and director ...

Recommended for you

Big data confirms climate extremes are here to stay

1 hour ago

In a paper published online today in the journal Scientific Reports, published by Nature, Northeastern researchers Evan Kodra and Auroop Ganguly found that while global temperature is indeed increasing, so too is the variab ...

How might climate change affect our food supply?

2 hours ago

It's no easy question to answer, but prudence demands that we try. Thus, Microsoft and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) have teamed up to tackle "food resilience," one of several themes ...

Groundwater is safe in potential N.Y. fracking area

3 hours ago

Two Cornell hydrologists have completed a thorough groundwater examination of drinking water in a potential hydraulic fracturing area in New York's Southern Tier. They determined that drinking water in potable ...

User comments : 0