Green water infrastructure refers to using practices that mimic natural systems to manage stormwater runoff. Having green infrastructure in place controls stormwater by using it as a resource rather than as a waste. Much of our storm water is wasted by laying on top of roads and parking lots instead of being absorbed into our soil. Most places have been historically built using gray infrastructure such as gutters, pipes, and tunnels to move stormwater to local water bodies and treatment facilities. In a green infrastructure, stormwater is often absorbed where it falls. Water can also be collected and then distributed where it can be used.
There are many ways to incorporate green infrastructure. These techniques are increasingly popular in urban settings, where most of the stormwater is wasted or leads to flooding. Rain gardens are planted areas in a sidewalk (or other non permeable areas) that are designed to collect and manage stormwater. They are often slightly lower than the surrounding area to help guide water to that location. Plants that thrive in extremely wet and dry conditions are often planted here. Rain gardens filter pollutants and provide a habitat for local wildlife and insects. Rain gardens are designed specifically to capture and hold large amounts of water. The top layer is a sandy soil that is easy permeable. Infiltration basins are similar to rain gardens. They are designed to store rain water beneath the surface and slowly seep water into the ground through the infiltration process.
Green roofs are another form of green infrastructure. There is a vegetative layer that grows on top of a drainage layer. Green roofs have other layers, most importantly a waterproofing layer. Green roofs reduce the volume and velocity of stormwater runoff. Having more permeable paving is another way to reduce stormwater runoff. Porous concrete, porous asphalt, and permeable pavers can be used in place of traditional asphalt or concrete. Rainwater harvesting is another method of green infrastructure where you harvest the water to be used when rainfall isn’t abundant. Always refer to local laws on water collecting before installing any rainwater collection.
There are several ways to incorporate green infrastructure. There are many benefits to not only people, but also the local wildlife and natural resources when water is absorbed in a more natural way. The main benefits of green infrastructure is the increase of water retention along with the increase of water quality. Green infrastructure can be something you implement on an individual household scale, but it is also something that can be implemented at a much larger scale such as a building owner or city council.
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