Recently, my Environmental Senior Seminar course has been focusing on implementing Green Infrastructure in Reading. I’d like to take a moment to inform you of how important this topic is and how these projects are useful/beneficial in a number of settings.
What is Green Infrastructure? It is a cost effective, resilient approach to managing wet weather impacts that provide many community benefits (EPA). It also treats stormwater at its source while being environmentally, socially, and economically beneficial.
Why is it important?
1)Education: Installing these features educates the community about pollution, natural functions of local habitat, restoration, and Sustainability!!
Stormwater runoff is major cause of water pollution in urban areas. When it rains, water runs down impervious surfaces (streets, buildings, lots) and cannot soak into the ground as it should. Stormwater is drained through gutters, storm sewers, and other engineered collection systems only to be discharged into nearby water bodies. Stormwater runoff collects trash, bacteria, heavy metals, and other pollutants from the urban landscape. Higher flows resulting from heavy rains can cause erosion and flooding in urban streams- damaging habitat, property, and infrastructure (EPA).
Example: Hurricane Harvey brought severe flooding to Houston this past Fall because there weren’t enough natural wetlands to manage and delay flood events.
What are types of Green Infrastructure?
Literally a swale, sloped divot, stuffed with native plantings with a rock layer underneath to aid with absorbance of rain water. These are designed, deeper than rain gardens, to accept large amounts of runoff from impervious surfaces (Soils).
This is kind of like a bioswale, but is localized in a smaller or residential area, accepting smaller amounts of stormwater runoff. This too is planted with native species to support native pollinators (Soils).
For fellow Albrightians reading this, there’s a rain garden located in the Albright Garden. In fact, this was a project to catch rain water run off from spouting on the surrounding buildings!
Those dingy, lonesome alleyways you walk past? Yep, flip those into community spaces with adequate lighting for safety, permeable pavement to absorb water (instead of allowing runoff), and plants- cause why not.
4) Green Roofs:
I’m certain you’ve seen these and I hoped you’ve planned it for your future home too. This is a fine opportunity to make use of neglected space. Green Roofs support vegetation and the community can enjoy it too. It also provides a proven return on investment for building owners. This feature is still up and coming in the U.S. but has been long established in Europe! (Green Roofs)
Please consider how these features might fit into your life or community!
Until next time,