United States EPA looks to ‘green infrastructure’ solutions to flooding



Potential New Regulations

“Two weeks after torrential rains triggered flash floods in metro Milwaukee, the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said the agency has begun to mull potential new uses and regulations for “green infrastructure” – the sorts of landscaping, vegetation and materials that help manage storm water and reduce flooding,” writes reporter John Schmid in an article published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.


Rain is a Resource

In a written statement, the EPA said it is “in the process of developing a comprehensive strategy for incorporating green infrastructure more broadly into our clean water rules.”

“Green infrastructure manages storm water not as a waste product but as a valued resource,” the statement said, describing how widespread pavement means “storm water has fewer places to soak into the ground.”

Many paved areas that don't allow for soil drainage present a risk to water quality, the statement said.


Managing Wet Weather with Green Infrastructure

Green infrastructure is an approach to wet weather management that is cost-effective, sustainable, and environmentally friendly. Green Infrastructure management approaches and technologies infiltrate, evapotranspire, capture and reuse stormwater to maintain or restore natural hydrologies.

At the largest scale, the preservation and restoration of natural landscape features (such as forests, floodplains and wetlands) are critical components of green stormwater infrastructure. By protecting these ecologically sensitive areas, communities can improve water quality while providing wildlife habitat and opportunities for outdoor recreation.

On a smaller scale, green infrastructure practices include rain gardens, porous pavements, green roofs, infiltration planters, trees and tree boxes, and rainwater harvesting for non-potable uses such as toilet flushing and landscape irrigation.


Posted August 2010