Stormwater runoff causes flooding and flushes contaminants into waterways, causing pollution in 90% of NJ's rivers, streams, and lakes. As a municipal leader, you have the power to improve your community's response to water challenges by using green infrastructure.Getting Started
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.
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
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
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.
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
Image courtesy of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation
FACTS: As green infrastructure BMPs have become more common, published case study data show that green infrastructure is actually less expensive than conventional “gray infrastructure,” in terms of both initial capital costs and annual maintenance costs. The cost savings estimated by the USEPA of green infrastructure BMPs versus conventional gray stormwater BMPs ranges from 15 percent to 80 percent…Read More
FACTS: Not so. Maintenance requirements of some green infrastructure BMPs are really not that different than old-school stormwater systems like detention basins. NJDEP requires all stormwater BMPs be inspected quarterly and after all storm events generating more than an inch of rainfall; this applies to conventional detention basins as well as green infrastructure BMPs. The routine maintenance of all BMPs also includes the periodic removal of debris from inlets and outlets, weeding of invasive species, replanting of bare areas and the occasional removal of accumulated sediment. Whereas conventional grassed detention basins need to be mowed weekly, bioretention basins, rain gardens, and vegetated swales need only be mowed once per year…Read More
FACTS: Just the opposite. Green infrastructure has been implemented and tested throughout North America, South America and Europe. It has been shown repeatedly to be dependable and highly effective in various settings and climates. Green infrastructure BMPs are utilized extensively in large cities such as Philadelphia, Milwaukee, New York, Washington, D.C., and Seattle, as well as in smaller cities and towns such as Syracuse, Nashville, Lancaster, Austin and Chattanooga. In many large, older cities, green infrastructure BMPs are used to combat combined sewer overflow (CSO) problems. These cities rely on green infrastructure BMPs to reduce the off-site volume of runoff, thus decreasing how much runoff enters the storm sewer collection system. This in turn decreases the occurrence of CSOs…Read More
FACTS: Green infrastructure BMPs are routinely utilized with a high rate of success and effectiveness even in cold-weather climates. Studies at the Sustainable Technology Evaluation Program at the University of Calgary have shown that all types of permeable paving perform well in winter. And there is no evidence of increased damage due to frost heaving for permeable pavement as compared with regular pavement because there is no standing water and associated freeze-thaw cycle, something that also cuts down on slip/trip injuries. Similarly, data compiled by the University of New Hampshire Stormwater Center demonstrate the utility and functionality of various green infrastructure BMPs under cold climate conditions. Likewise, there are numerous studies available through the USEPA demonstrating the functionality of green infrastructure BMPs in cold climate settings. The majority of these studies demonstrate that even though the plants may be dormant, there is still some degree of filtering and settling attributable to the remaining residual plant material. Thus, although the plants may not be actively assimilating nutrients and attenuating other pollutants, removal of settleable solids and suspended sediments still occurs. Properly designed and constructed green infrastructure BMPs are capable of managing large storm events. Climate change induced increases in storm intensity and runoff volumes do not pose a challenge to the implementation of green infrastructure BMPs. In fact, as compared to conventional stormwater management techniques, green infrastructure can greatly reduce the volume of runoff generated from large storm events. Capturing and infiltrating the first inch of rainfall helps delay peak flows during extreme events, allowing stormwater infrastructure to work more effectively. Numerous studies have documented that green infrastructure reduces average losses from flood events, even in areas with low-infiltration soils and higher flood risk. This often translates to flood control cost savings and performance benefits. As illustrated in Hoboken, when implemented on a community-wide scale green infrastructure BMPs help make cities more resilient to extreme storm events.Read More
FACTS: This is one of the greatest fallacies concerning green infrastructure BMPs. In fact, green infrastructure BMP design standards for bioretention and infiltration basins specifically require that standing water drain from green infrastructure BMPs within 72 hours. This keeps mosquitoes from breeding. Additionally, the complexity of plants used in green infrastructure BMPs attracts and supports beneficial organisms that feed on mosquito larvae. A properly maintained green infrastructure BMP will not breed mosquitoes or attract pests…Read More
FACTS: There are numerous monetary, regulatory, aesthetic, and flood-control benefits to implementing green infrastructure BMPs as opposed to conventional gray infrastructure techniques. One of the biggest incentives is that decentralized stormwater management systems often free up more land than the traditional large-basin stormwater management methods…Read More
FACTS: Green infrastructure stormwater best management practices (BMPs) can be implemented in rural or urban settings, as part of new land development projects or as part of site redevelopment projects. However, green infrastructure BMPs have proven to be especially effective in correcting stormwater problems (rate, quality, volume and recharge) in urban settings. Thus, green infrastructure BMPs are often associated with urban sites, especially urban redevelopment projects…Read More
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.
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.
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.
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