Green Infrastructure Turns Rain into a Resource, not a Pollution Source
New York City, like hundreds of older cities around the country, can’t stand the rain. With so much paved area, and so little ground to soak up the water, the city’s sewer system can get overwhelmed by a mere tenth of an inch of rainfall, triggering the discharge of polluted runoff from streets mixed with untreated sewage into the nearest water body. Anyone who’s walked along the Hudson River the morning after a storm knows what this looks like.
For New York, excess stormwater is one of the biggest sources of water pollution in the city. It’s a 30-billion-gallon-a-year problem.
The traditional approach to stormwater management is to treat it like garbage, as waste that needs to be disposed of. But a growing number of cities have recently embraced an innovative new approach to stormwater that transforms this “waste” into a resource that will improve neighborhoods. By building out a suite of solutions known as green infrastructure—including features like porous pavement, street plantings, and green roofs—city landscapes can absorb rainwater where it falls. Instead of washing straight into the sewer system and triggering sewage discharges, this water can be used as nature intended, to nurture trees and plants, keeping neighborhoods cooler, greener, and the air cleaner. Read more.