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Home > Natural Resources > Land Management for Sustainable Communities and Natural Resources

Green Infrastructure Surges Across the U.S. to Clean Up Urban Water Supplies

Green Infrastructure Surges Across the U.S. to Clean Up Urban Water Supplies

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Green Infrastructure (GI) for preferred stormwater strategy

Recent actions by both Congress and the State of Illinois are bringing Green Infrastructure (GI) closer to becoming the preferred stormwater strategy to control runoff by sustainable, cost- and ecologically effective methods.

2010 Green Infrastructure for Clean Water Act

The U.S. Senate is considering national Green Infrastructure policy, with introduction of the Green Infrastructure for Clean Water Act. CNT and a broad national coalition worked vigorously for development of the "GI for Clean Water Act", which is now introduced in both chambers.

Congress finds that...

  • many water resources in the United States are declining, particularly in urban areas;
  • that decline of water resources is the result of an increase in population, water consumption, and impermeable surfaces, as well as the negative effects of urbanization, commercial and industrial activities, and climate change; and
  • an October 2008 study by the National Research Council found that some of the benefits of green infrastructure include increased water supplies, the creation of green jobs, cost savings, and a reduction of stormwater runoff, surface water discharge, stormwater pollution, and stormwater flows.
The Act would fund the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to finance federal cost-share grants for planning and implementation of community Green Infrastructure.

Would establish “centers of excellence” for GI training and research by providing grants, on a competitive basis, to eligible institutions to establish and maintain not less than 3, and not more than 5, centers of excellence for green infrastructure, to be located in various regions throughout the United States.

The Act would also financially support states that develop Green Infrastructure Portfolio Standards -- incremental targets for stormwater management that would increase the use of green infrastructure over time.

What Green Infrastructure Includes...

The term `green infrastructure' includes
  • Methods that promote absorption, uptake, percolation, evapotranspiration, and filtration by soil and plant life; and
  • Preservation or restoration of--
    • Natural topography, including hills, plains, ravines, and shorelines;
    • Interconnected networks of natural land that protect essential ecological functions critical for water quality;
    • Ecology, including forests, grasslands, and deserts;
    • Bodies of water, including lakes, flood plains, headwaters, and wetlands; and
    • Native soil characteristics of composition, structure, and transmissivity.

Ways to Support Green Infrastructure Solutions

  • Conduct and communicate findings about research on green infrastructure to determine the means by which green infrastructure reduces stormwater runoff, enhances and protects drinking water sources, and improves water quality
  • Disseminating information regarding the means by which an organization can use green infrastructure such as:
    • Providing technical assistance to an organization for a green infrastructure project;
    • Developing best practices standards for green infrastructure;
    • Providing job training relating to green infrastructure;
    • Developing course curricula for schools , higher education, vocational schools;
    • Providing information to the Federal Government or State, tribal, and local governments regarding the implementation of green infrastructure.

    Planning and development grant projects

    Planning and designing green infrastructure projects, including engineering surveys, landscape plans, maps, and implementation plans.

    Identifying and developing standards and revisions to local zoning, building, or other local codes necessary to accommodate green infrastructure projects.

    Identifying and developing fee structures to provide financial support for design, installation, and operations and maintenance of green infrastructure.

    Developing training and educational materials regarding green infrastructure for distribution

    Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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