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United States

Green Infrastructure & Rainwater Management in the United States: report features five case studies in different regions of the country


The report highlights several innovative green infrastructure stormwater projects. “By examining projects over diverse parts of the country, readers will be able to assess trends and techniques that consider various stakeholders in their stormwater projects,” wrote Margaret Buranen. “There are a variety of ways to handle rainwater runoff with green infrastructure and many factors to consider when evaluating options.”

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“Green City, Clean Waters”: An interview with Philadelphia’s Howard Neukrug about the bold vision for re-imagining the urban landscape


Howard Neukrug fundamentally changed Philadelphia’s relationship with nature, and other cities are watching with great interest. “Instead of expanding our infrastructure, we put together a plan to price, value, reuse, recycle, infiltrate, transpire or otherwise manage, every drop of rainwater we could. We started to invent the millions of ways to reduce the amount of rainwater that arrived at our sewer inlets. The goal was to consider rainwater as a commodity and a resource—if it enters a sewer drain it becomes a costly waste product,” explained Howard Neukrug.

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ARTICLE: “Unless and until land development practices mimic the natural water balance, communities cannot expect to restore the biological communities within streams," stated Dr. Richard Horner


“Simply put, hydrology hits first and hardest—one could pour an equivalent volume of distilled water into a stream, and the consequences for stream health would be the same as if it was urban runoff,” explained RIchard Horner. “Changes in hydrology, not water quality, must be the primary focus of our efforts. If we get the hydrology right, water quality typically takes care of itself in a residential development.

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DEBUNKING VOODOO HYDROLOGY: “The rise of Green Infrastructure and Resilience Planning opens the door for newer Voodoo like never before,” observes Andy Reese, water resources engineer and author


Andy Reese coined the term Voodoo Hydrology in 2006 to describe the misapplication of science that characterizes stormwater management practice. “Perhaps, if we make enough estimates of enough factors, the errors in estimation, high and low, will average out to the right answer. This is where voodoo really comes in handy. The good news is that, as Dr. Tom Debo says, ‘Who can prove you are wrong?’ Well, the Omniscient Being can, but is probably busy elsewhere,” says Andy Reese.

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Leading Change in New York City: Empty lot transformed into playground at school


The 1-acre playground includes several green infrastructure elements, including specialized plantings and shade trees, porous pavement and permeable pavers, and a new synthetic turf field featuring a broken stone storage layer and perforated distribution pipes to promote infiltration. “This new playground will provide students and the broader community with a new outdoor space to learn and play,” said Carmen Fariña.

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Leading Change in the USA: Detroit Is Turning Vacant Lots Into Sponges for Rainwater Absorption


In Detroit, the problem of rainwater management is exacerbated by the fact that the city is seated on a glacial lake plain. The soil is rich in clay, and isn’t easy for water to infiltrate. The city has pivoted to focus on green infrastructure, which can be strategically placed to mitigate localized flooding. According to Wade Rose, vacant land (66,000 parcels) creates an opportunity for environmental interventions on a large scale. “Detroit is one-of-a-kind, as far as habitat goes in the U.S.,” he said.

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Kitsap County's Manchester stormwater "park" improves water quality in Puget Sound, Washington State


“Successful stormwater retrofitting typically requires a combination of good engineering practice and opportunistic property purchase, as well as innovative thinking and the willingness to try new techniques,” states Chris May. ” Kitsap County took a holistic approach to the problem of replacing an aging and undersized stormwater outfall pipe in Manchester. With both treatment facility and community park elements, the design process was a marriage of both form and function.”

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US EPA released results of "Flood Loss Avoidance Benefits of Green Infrastructure for Stormwater Management" (Dec 2015)


“GI/LID is used already to protect water quality and stream health. In addition to these environmental benefits, the study shows that GI can enhance community resilience to flood hazards. We are working with other Federal agencies to identify synergies and opportunities for collaboration,” stated Lisa Hair. “GI can reduce flood losses when applied watershed-wide as a co-benefit to the primary objective of water quality protection.”

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Seattle's pioneering RainWise stormwater-pollution prevention program just got even better


“The Rainwise program, run jointly by Seattle Public Utilities and King County Wastewater Treatment Division, empowers homeowners and other private property owners to help stop the region’s largest source of water pollution: polluted runoff and specifically the sewer overflows that occur when heavy rains flood the city’s combined sewer system,” stated Alisa Valderrama.

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Designing with Nature in Detroit: Innovative approach to incorporating green infrastructure captures rainwater while beautifying neighborhoods


“I am overjoyed when I look at these projects and think about what they are doing. One thing that we have in this city is land. We have tons and tons of land. And being able to make that land productive is going to be an amazing benefit for us in the future. So I hope that we can continue to do these types of projects and that we can inspire others to do them, as well," said Palencia Mobley.

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