Green Infrastructure Beats a Giants Parade

By Elizabeth Myer

Yesterday, while most of New York City was gathered outside of our downtown office building to observe the ticker-tape parade honoring the Giants, I, a bitter Philadelphia sports fan, was fortunate enough to spend my morning 60 blocks uptown. As part of the New York Water Environment Association’s 84th Annual Meeting, EPA held a forum to discuss green infrastructure at the Marriot Marquis in Times Square. The green infrastructure panel consisted of four experts who shared their successes and challenges regarding  their respective experiences implementing green infrastructure. 

After opening remarks by EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck, Matt Millea, Deputy County Executive of Onondaga County, kicked off the morning with a riveting presentation that detailed Onondaga County’s “Save the Rain” initiative. Matt went into  detail about the county’s green infrastructure program, a comprehensive stormwater management plan intended to reduce pollution to Onondaga Lake and its tributaries. 

Yale graduate student Erin Gill presented yesterday on the indirect benefits of green infrastructure. (EPA photo)

Fellow panelist Suzanna Randall, a Green Infrastructure Coordinator at NYS Environmental Facilities Corporation, said it best when she reiterated Matt Millea’s offer to “steal our plans, take our ideas!” Suzanna believes that inspiring communities by demonstration, as well as sharing lessons learned, is optimal for spreading enthusiasm about green infrastructure. 

EPA’s own Mike Borst made pavement sound fascinating (yes, I can be sarcastic, but this is not one of those times) when he gave an overview of EPA’s porous pavement parking lot in Edison, NJ. The parking lot, which includes three different sizes of rain gardens to infiltrate rainfall and stormwater, is also the site of a ten year study in which data will be collected to monitor functionality and performance of the permeable surfaces and rain gardens over time, in addition to a variety of other crucial questions. I strongly encourage the permeable pavement skeptics to watch this video

If you regret not being able to attend the conference and would like access to the presentations, check out the videos for each presentation here.