While almost a quarter of CONUS is in drought at the time of this post, green infrastructure initiatives in the other states combat stormwater runoff. The historical grey infrastructure consisting of gutters, pipes, and tunnels is not a viable one according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The infrastructure is aging, and its large-volume capacity is diminishing.
Grey vs. Green
Green infrastructure provides social and economic benefits. Its aesthetics in regions or neighborhoods have cascading effects. More greenery promotes outdoor recreation which improves public health overall and fosters community building. Measures such as urban tree canopies can boost property values.
While grey infrastructure directs the flow of collected stormwater, green infrastructures absorb stormwater where it falls. The objectives have shifted from managing the flow and capacity to the impact on water quality and ecosystems. The data generated can be used to choose suitable locations for green infrastructure practices. By visualizing the data, the impact of potential scenarios at various scales can be analyzed.
What makes an infrastructure green?
A green infrastructure has many attributes and benefits. Green roofs reduce runoff volumes, regulate building temperatures, and provide urban wildlife habitats. Permeable pavements cool surface temperatures, also reduce runoff volumes, and improve water quality. Rain gardens or planter boxes support ground water recharge, pollutant removal, and runoff detention. Vegetated swales, or “bioswales” has shown promise in research to lessen peak flows, reduce pollutant loads, and enhance wildlife biodiversity . However, according to the EPA, the performance of bioswales is sensitive to design. Urban tree canopies can enhance not only habitats, but also property values. They mitigate air pollution, reduce runoff quantity, and reduce energy use.
There is also an interest in rainwater harvesting and research into it is ongoing for water conservation and stormwater management purposes, as well as the benefits of constructed wetlands.
Open GeoPlanner’s green infrastructure template
This type of pioneering work calls for unique tools. ArcGIS GeoPlanner’s green infrastructure template contains an arsenal that facilitates the planning for green infrastructure.
Ensure you have an ArcGIS organization account with the GeoPlanner app and follow along to learn what GeoPlanner and the green infrastructure template has to offer.
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