Implementing Green Infrastructure through new Policies and Tools

Author(s): Gallo, W.; Overbey, E.

The underlying theory behind green infrastructure or sustainable stormwater design is that the cumulative impact of many small facilities is greater than that of a few large facilities. This concept depends on the design, installation and management of many more facilities than a traditional pipe and detain ordinance would have created. Instead, a collection of small-scale, vegetated, best management practices are designed to fit seamlessly into the urban fabric to manage smaller storm events close to the source, mitigate nearly every new impervious area, and promote as much infiltration or bio-retention as possible.

For a municipality to move toward a green infrastructure approach requires major changes to how their stormwater ordinance is organized and administered. More facilities, potentially means more submittals, more calculations to check, and more designs to approve. A few municipalities have been grappling with this paradigm shift for the last decade. Their experience indicates that the shift toward green infrastructure requires new tools, which simplify the administrative and design process, and new policies, which ensure the goals of green infrastructure are implemented effectively.

This presentation will explore a few of the specific policies and tools, which have been developed to implement green infrastructure including:

  • a pre-development definition which ensures policies will improve watershed protection over time;
  • a low application trigger which is central to the concept of managing stormwater at the source;
  • a detention requirement, which when combined with a low application trigger, does not impede urban development and also provides a high level of overall flood protection;
  • an almost wholesale embrace of small-scale vegetated best management practices (BMPs), which focus on infiltration; and
  • a collection of tools specifically designed to facilitate the design, approval, and implementation of small-scale BMPs.

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