by Isaac Dudley
What is green infrastructure?
As an element of Friends of the Verde River’s River Friendly Living program, green infrastructure refers to man made systems that use living and natural features to absorb or capture stormwater where it falls. Whether you are a homeowner or a city planner, using green infrastructure techniques can have many benefits for us and the environment. Some of these benefits include groundwater recharge, flood control, improved water quality, and improved wildlife habitat.
What are some examples or green infrastructure in action?
Green infrastructure systems can be small and simple, or large and multifaceted. If you are a homeowner, green infrastructure for your household may look as simple as setting up a rain barrel or a rain garden in your yard, or setting up a gray water system to water your plants. These can be great ways to harvest rainwater for later use or to support your landscaping needs. Green infrastructure strategies like these not only reduce your water footprint (the amount of water your household uses), it can also recharge groundwater, improve habitat, and help with flooding issues.
Here is an example of a rain garden. The water it captures supports the trees and native grasses, which in turn help the water to be absorbed deeper into the soil.
A developer or government worker could use green infrastructure to aid in flood control by using infiltration basins. Even strategies as simple as curb cuts that allow water to flow off of the street to support landscaping and natural areas can help. In addition to flood control, these efforts greatly support the recharge of community groundwater, improve water quality, and improve habitat for wildlife.
The above image is a real-world example of an infiltration basin. When renovating an old office building, the developer and land owners worked with Friends of the Verde River to design and install an infiltration basin that captures over 300,000 gallons of water per year from the roof and parking lot of the building. This water is then transported deep into the ground to recharge the underlying groundwater.
What can I do?
There are many green infrastructure technologies that can be used at your home and business and throughout our communities at every level. Basins, curb cuts, rain gardens, and greywater systems such as laundry-to-landscape are only some of the options available.
If you are interested in learning more about the benefits of green infrastructure and how you can use it on your project, contact Isaac Dudley at IsaacD@VerdeRiver.org.