"Green Infrastructure"--a revolutionary new plan for Philadelphia's stormwater

"Green... infrastructure is a stormwater management tool that focuses on the use of vegetation to collect and treat stormwater as opposed to using man made components such as drains, pipes and treatment plants. It essentially allows Mother Nature to do her job naturally and brings a little green benefit to the city at the same time."  Arrus Farmer, for PlanPhilly.


Below: one example of "green infrastructure."
Permeable paving on an alleyway in Chicago. EPA photo.

Madison has much to learn from other communities.  Below I'll reprint a few paragraphs from a long story (12/24/09) by Taryn Luntz on Greenwire.  I recommend you read the full story on the New York Times here.
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Philly's bold vision

"Philadelphia has a groundbreaking idea about what to do with stormwater: Use it to feed grass and trees instead of letting it rush into the sewers.

The concept may seem obvious. But for most cities, a stormwater management plan that doesn't expand sewers or treatment plants is counterintuitive."
Philadelphia is proposing to "invest $1.6 billion to turn a third of the city green in the next 20 years. The plan involves replacing streets, parking lots and sidewalks with water-absorbing porous pavement, street-edge gardens and trees.

'We want to do anything we can do to return us as close as possible to the way nature intended the water cycle to be,' said Howard Neukrug, director of the Philadelphia Water Department's watersheds office. 'But we need to do that within the context of a city that is fully grown, with incredible impervious cover everywhere.'

Philadelphia is examining a number of options, Neukrug said, including digging up streets, planting trees and redesigning tree pits and curbs to trap water before it reaches sewer inlets. The city also may push for green roofs, rain barrels and other water-conserving measures for new and existing homes and buildings.

'We recognized that if we manage stormwater where it lands, whether on the ground or on a roof, that in very many circumstances we can not only prevent that gallon of water from overflowing, but we may be able to find additional benefits for our customers,' Neukrug said. 'Things that impact the urban heat island effect, things that improve the aesthetic of a community.'"

The entire city--a rain garden

Here's what freelance writer Korky Koroluk has to say about Philly's vision:  "The plan reimagines the city as an oasis of rain gardens, green roofs, permeable pavements, thousands of additional trees, and more. The idea is to turn the city into a giant sponge to absorb as much rainwater as possible and delay the rest in its journey to the nearby Delaware and Schuykill rivers."

"None of the ideas are new. What’s new is the scale proposed, and that has large cities across North America watching closely."
"The city has been shopping the plan around to neighbourhood groups and, while they met with some opposition, they were astounded to find a high level of enthusiasm for it. There are long-term savings to be had, so residents — so far, at least — seem willing to pay the additional $8 per month per household to pay for it."  More

Madison... let's get started!

Philadelphia will test the new green infrastructure techniques in several neighborhoods.  Makes sense--you have to start somewhere.  Sunset Village would be an ideal place to begin building green infrastructure in Madison.  And let's start with the best possible green plan for our ravine.

Find out more about Green Infrastructure

The Green Streets Handbook from EPA. 
Wikipedia article on green infrastructure.
Green Infrastructure statement from the EPA.
"Waterbucket" article on Philly plan.
Philly's Green City, Clean Waters plan.

Home page of this blog, where you can find more on green infrastructure

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