FROM STORMWATER TO CLEAN WATER
Prevent pollution.
Reduce flooding.
Improve your community.

Nearly 90 percent of New Jersey’s rivers, streams and lakes are polluted. As a municipal leader, you have the power to protect and improve your community’s water.

Getting Started

Put your community at the forefront of sustainability and resiliency with green infrastructure.

Find the all tools you need to plan, implement and sustain green infrastructure in your community.

Getting Started

Ways To Get Started
With Green Infrastructure in Your Community

Learn from mayors

Learn from mayors

Take a quick look at how two leaders are moving their communities forward with green infrastructure. You can do it too!

Watch the Video

Install a demonstration project

Install a demonstration project

Green infrastructure is about problem-solving. Identify a challenge — perhaps an intersection that floods even after a mild storm, or a park with drainage problems, or a polluted stream or lake. Install a green-infrastructure solution: a rain garden, cistern, green roof, tree trench or pervious pavement, to help address the problem. And remember to include a good interpretive sign to help people understand why the project was built, how it works and the benefits it brings.

Build your team

Build your team

Designing a site plan or capital project with green stormwater infrastructure is not a one-person, “end of the process” task. It requires a team that works early in the design process to integrate stormwater management into the broader project objectives, be they functional, societal, or economic. For example, green infrastructure in downtown streets can improve pedestrian and bike safety, increase property values and encourage the foot traffic that businesses love. Green infrastructure in parks can create valuable habitat for birds and pollinators while reducing flood damage and contributing to climate change resiliency. Ideally, your design team includes — but need not be limited to — a skilled engineer, landscape architect (with soils expertise) and planner.

Engage your planning board

Engage your planning board

A few key updates to your municipal Master Plan goals and principles will provide the rationale and stimulus for ordinance improvements, policy and procedural changes, training, and other steps that make sense. New or updated goals and principles for various sections (“elements”) of your Master Plan can be recommended and adopted by the planning board without undertaking a comprehensive Master Plan re-examination.

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What Is Green Infrastructure?

Green infrastructure comprises stormwater management strategies that enable stormwater and melting snow to soak into soils near where they fall, or be captured for a beneficial re-use such as irrigation or flushing toilets. Keeping runoff out of the storm sewer system improves water quality and minimizes localized flooding.

Examples include rain gardens, permeable pavement, street tree trenches, green roofs and cisterns.

Read our full list of green infrastructure examples and definitions

View All Definitions

What’s at Stake?

Stormwater pollution happens almost everywhere; its impacts are felt in every community. Local decisions determine whether stormwater will be a resource or an environmental threat. Make sure the right decisions are made in your town.

Prevent pollution. Restore local waterways

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Fact: More than half of the documented waterborne disease outbreaks since 1948 have followed extreme rainfalls.1

Fact: A 10-acre surface parking lot will generate 270,000 gallons of stormwater after a one-inch rain storm. That equals the water used in nine average-sized swimming pools or more than 6,000 bathtubs. The polluted runoff generally contains high levels of oil and grease, sediment, salt, heavy metals and bacteria that end up in our local waterways.2

Reduce flooding

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Fact: Our paved surfaces and rooftops generate 16 times more stormwater runoff than the green areas they replace, increasing the frequency and severity of flash flooding.3

Add economic value

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Fact: Studies show that green infrastructure enhances property values, adds to foot traffic in downtown areas, and is associated with lower crime. Green infrastructure also cools and cleans the air, provides good “green” jobs, is associated with lower asthma rates and lowers energy costs.

Protect drinking water

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Fact: About 77 percent of the freshwater used in the United States comes from surface-water sources. The other 23 percent comes from groundwater. Surface water is an important natural resource used for many purposes, the most important of which are drinking water and food growth.5

You have the power to make a difference.
Act locally. Go from gray to green.

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Benefits of Green Infrastructure

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Economic

  • Reduced construction costs and long-term cost savings for public and private development by reducing the quantity of pavement, curbs and gutters
  • Less damage and lower cost impacts from localized flooding
  • Higher property values through improved community aesthetics
  • Energy savings through green roofs and tree shading
  • Reduced drinking water treatment costs
  • Less stress on existing gray infrastructure extends useful life of the stormwater system

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Environmental

  • Keeps polluted water out of creeks, lakes, and rivers; improves water quality by filtering pollutants
  • Increases groundwater and aquifer recharge
  • Improves air quality through reduction in greenhouse gases
  • Provides wildlife habitat by preserving forest canopy and open space
  • Restores aquatic habitat through improved water quality
  • Mitigates climate change through the sequestering of carbon in plants

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Community/Public Health

  • Meets the public’s growing demand for sustainable communities
  • Cooler air: reduced urban heat island effect through evaporation and tree canopy cover
  • Dedicated open space provides opportunities for passive and active recreation
  • Provides physical and mental health benefits: People are happier, healthier and safer living in places with trees and greenways
  • Proximity to green infrastructure is associated with lower asthma rates
  • Protects drinking water supplies
  • Increases pedestrian safety through curb retrofits reducing the roadway width at crossings
  • Improves aesthetics in the public (streetscape) and private (parking and stormwater management areas) realms
  • Improves water quality for beach-goers and fishermen.

Common Myths and Facts

Common-Myths

Read our full list of green infrastructure myths and facts

View All Myths

What Can You Do?

Plan

Whether your town is starting from scratch or looking to move to the next level with green infrastructure, smart planning is a must. Chart your course with guidance and tools found here.

Learn More

Implement

Green infrastructure isn’t rocket science, but proper design, construction and maintenance – all essential to long-term success – requires a different approach. This section of the toolkit provides the tools needed and practical applications of implementing green infrastructure within your municipality.

Learn More

Sustain

Like all infrastructure, green infrastructure requires monitoring and maintenance in order to function properly over the long term. This section of the toolkit will provide operations, maintenance, and monitoring guidance, as well as ways to alert and engage your community about the benefits of green infrastructure.

Learn More

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