Getting to Know Green Infrastructure

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Excerpt from “The Joy of Water: A Homeowner’s Cookbook to Becoming Water Wise”*

The Holy Trinity of Rainwater Management

Green infrastructure is the use of plants and trees to manage rainwater and reduce flooding.  By including plants in urban landscape design and directing rainwater to flow through them, homeowners can balance the negative effects of concrete and other impervious surfaces.  Green infrastructure reduces flooding and helps filter out pollutants in three ways:

  1. Infiltration: By allowing water to infiltrate or soak into the soil, we help balance the water table. A balanced water table reduces the constant expanding/shrinking of our clay soils and the shrinking of our rich organic soil, which in turn helps to stop the ground from sinking – a process called subsidence.
  1. Filtration: As rainwater flows through plants, the roots absorb the dirty water and filter pollutants before they can reach the pipes and drains. This means cleaner water flows into our lakes and bayous, benefitting recreation and fishing.
  1. Detention: Large planted areas can be used to detain or temporarily store rainwater, allowing water to be absorbed by plants and the soils rather than run directly into the storm drains. This decreases flooding by preventing the drainage system from being overloaded with rainwater.

Want to see how it’s done? Check out a few of the ways green infrastructure is being used to infiltrate, filter, and detain rainwater at our Holy Cross Project here.

Next up, we’ll give you a complete how-to on disconnecting your downspout to create another opportunity for stormwater filtration. For more tips and info, follow @globalgreen and check out our ongoing #WaterWise tweets!

*The Joy of Water was created by Water Works, in collaboration with Global Green USA, Dana Brown & Associates, Bayou Land RC&D, Longue Vue House & Gardens, and Louisiana Urban Stormwater Coalition, and was funded by the Greater New Orleans Foundation.