“Green” is one of the more popular “buzz” words these days. Being Green means different things to different people, but usually gets back to sustainability and reducing our negative impacts on the environment. When applied to storm water runoff, GREEN often means using practices on new developments that ‘mimic the pre‐development hydrology’ (another popular buzz phrase amongst storm water managers). In lay terms, this means practices that tend to allow for the same amount of groundwater recharge as was occurring before development. Historically, storm water designers paid little attention to this concern. Runoff from newly created impervious surfaces was moved to pipes or other storm water conveyances as quickly as possible, with a resulting decrease in groundwater recharge. Even with the more recent innovation of end‐of‐pipe storm water treatment ponds which help to address flooding and water quality concerns, diminished groundwater recharge remains a large concern.
Very recent changes in New York State’s storm water laws now require developers to address not only flooding and water quality concerns, but also changes to the natural hydrology. Developing in this fashion ideally includes the use of a whole host of Green Infrastructure (GI)practices and principles. How quickly and vigorously the changes in NY laws will be embraced and put into practice on new developments remains to be seen.
It is also important to remember that these same concepts can often be employed in existing urban settings. Since older developed areas usually have little or nothing in the way of storm water management, ‘retrofitting’ storm water management practices in these areas can offer significant water quality and groundwater recharge benefits, while also providing an opportunity to demonstrate modern Storm Water Management (SWM) practices. This demonstration value is crucial to accelerating the adoption of GI practices in the private sector and on new development in general.
In Orange County where more than half of our population relies on groundwater sources as their water supply, the importance of promoting practices that maintain groundwater recharge is obvious. In addition, we have many water bodies that have been impacted by the pollutants contained in urban runoff. Using GI practices both on new development and in existing urban areas olds the potential to protect and improve the quality of Orange County’s water resources.
This webpage is intended to highlight GI practices that have been installed in Orange County. By showing practices that were designed, installed and are functioning in our local setting, we hope this site will help with accelerating the adoption of GI practices as mentioned above.
Initially, the site will focus on practices, primarily Rain Gardens, planned, designed and installed with assistance from OCSWCD. However, several GI practices designed and installed by others will be included in the initial site postings. Our intention is to continue to expand this site with as many appropriate local GI practice examples as possible. Therefore, storm water designers and managers are strongly encouraged to submit their GI practice examples to help make this site as useful as possible in promoting more widespread adoption of Green Infrastructure development principles.
For more background on Green Infrastructure in general and other types of GI practices, simply enter ‘Green Infrastructure’ in your search engine.