GREENING OUR NEIGHBORHOODS
Stormwater runoff is one of the most serious water quality problems facing Long Island Sound. With each rainfall, water runs off roofs and pavement, causing flooding and sewage overflows and carrying pollutants to Long Island Sound.
Modern cities have many impermeable surfaces like pavement and rooftops, which disrupt the natural evaporation and soil absorption of rainfall. Huge quantities of water run off hard surfaces rapidly, accumulating greases, salts, fertilizers and pesticides that can kill fish and damage shellfish beds and aquatic plants.
The greatest health hazard, however, comes from sewage. In older cities, stormwater and sewer systems are often combined, leading to outflows of sewage into the Sound. Sewage forces the closing of many beaches and shellfish beds every summer, a move necessary to protect human health but costly for the tourism and shell fishing industries.
However, with appropriate management, runoff doesn't have to be so destructive.
HOW DO WE FIX IT?
One way to correct the problem is to implement Green Infrastructure (GI) techniques. It uses the known benefits of natural systems that provide pollution reduction through the use of soil and vegetation to trap, filter, and infiltrate stormwater.
There are numerous types of GI techniques including:
- Permeable Pavement: a pavement structure that supports stormwater infiltration through a stone drainage layer and an underdrain system. They are best suited for locations that do not experience high traffic activity, such as sidewalks, parking areas, and driveways.
- Bioretention: consists of a shallow vegetated or landscaped basin filled with engineered soil that is generally underlain by a stone drainage layer. Bioretention functions by allowing pollutants from sidewalk runoff to settle and filter out through the engineered soil. Subsequently, the volume of water that is discharged from the system is reduced.
- Rainwater Harvesting: the practice of capturing rainwater from rooftops and storing it through a cistern, or storage system, which can be installed above or below ground. This method is often used to recycle non-potable water.
- Subsurface Infiltration: a technique that captures water in spaces underground so water can seep into the underlying soil. Common systems include gravel beds, perforated pipe systems, and chamber systems.
- Blue Roofs: through the installation of a controlled structure over or within a roof drain, a blue roof system detains rainwater directly on a rooftop and slowly releases the water into a sewer system.
- Green Roofs: enhances water retention and evapotranspiration through engineered draining, soil, and vegetation to manage rooftop runoff in an aesthetically pleasing way.
Data shows that GI can effectively reduce stormwater runoff, filter out pollutants, save cities money, and create new job sectors.
Jobs and the Economy: GI is a growing industry that can provide between 10 and 21 jobs for every $1 million spent. Currently, our landscape, nursery, and landscape design industries are poised for expansion, indicating the potential for a new GI Industry Cluster.
Cost Savings: National studies demonstrate that adding GI to curb sewage and stormwater pollution can be more cost effective than using grey infrastructure alone. Savings range from $0.89 to $4.08 per gallon of treated water.
Environment: GI will help stop millions of gallons of raw sewage from being dumped in our rivers, streams and Long Island Sound, making our waters safer for citizens and wildlife alike.
Communities: GI will provide Connecticut residents with clean water, open beaches, and healthier shellfish beds. It will also help mitigate flooding, increase real estate values in our urban centers, reduce heat island sink, and provide urban greening, energy efficiency, and carbon sequestration – making our communities better places to live and do business.
WHAT WE ARE DOING
Green Infrastructure Workgroup
Green Infrastructure is a cutting edge solution that will help address Long Island Sound's water quality issues. To ensure that green infrastructure takes root here in Connecticut, we are facilitating a diverse group of stakeholders who advocate for funding and policies that promote green infrastructure techniques at the state and local level.
New Haven and Bridgeport
CFE/Save the Sound and Hazen and Sawyer recently completed a green infrastructure feasibility scan for New Haven and Bridgeport with the support of the Fairfield County Community Foundation and CTDEEP. The scan not only evaluated the overall possibility of green infrastructure implementation in these Connecticut cities, but also guided future efforts by considering job creation potential, costs, and benefits. We are also educating citizens about what they can do to help. Through outreach events and a citizen's how-to web-based tool we are walk property owners in these two cities through the permit process, incentive programs, cost and construction options for doing green infrastructure projects on their own property.
Quinnipiac River Grant
CFE/Save the Sound recently received a grant from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to implement a two-year strategy to recharge groundwater within drinking water aquifers of the Quinnipiac River watershed to conserve and enhance current and potential drinking water supplies.
This project will develop and implement GI roof recapture to increase groundwater recharge through both municipal/commercial projects and residential rain garden projects. It will also include a substantial community education and involvement component about the value of this project to the aquifers and Quinnipiac River watershed.