Clean Waters

Around the Water Cooler: Green Infrastructure Making News

By Lahne Mattas-Curry

EPA will help Philadelphia monitor water quality in rivers to measure the effectiveness of green infrastructure.

Some of my fellow bloggers and I have highlighted a variety of ways “green infrastructure” has helped cities save money, and showcased the impact it has had on helping communities become more sustainable.

We’ve even featured a video of EPA scientist Dr. Bill Shuster at work exploring the benefits of rain gardens and other “green infrastructure” techniques to reduce stormwater runoff from reaching local waterways.

We’re not the only ones who have noticed the potential of green infrastructure. A recent update on the online publication Yale Environment 360 highlights Philadelphia as a possible model for the rest of the country.  In June 2011, the city approved the Green City, Clean Waters program, a 25-year, $2-billion plan to reduce combined sewer overflows.

In April 2012, EPA signed off on the project. This is noted as one of the most comprehensive green infrastructure efforts in the country. EPA will help Philadelphia monitor water quality in surrounding rivers to measure the effectiveness of the green infrastructure efforts.

In another recent article, “Save New York by Making it Soft,” New Yorker magazine writer Thomas De Monchaux explores how establishing wetlands around Manhattan could “create new ecosystems, facilitating greater ecological connectivity, improving water quality, and enhancing opportunities for habitat growth.”

Do you have an example or an idea for tapping green infrastructure around where you live? Please share them in the comments section below.

About the Author: Lahne Mattas-Curry works with EPA’s Safe and Sustainable Water Resources research team and is a frequent “Around the Water Cooler” contributor.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

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Jamaica Bay

By Rachael Bucci

On July 19th, 2012, several EPA staff and interns demonstrated sampling techniques in Jamaica Bay to members of the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance Summer Youth Program. The Rockaway Waterfront Alliance (RWA) is a group of Rockaway residents dedicated to protecting the health of their waterfront. They engage community members of all ages by encouraging participation in educational, recreational and conservational activities in the area. This trip with us was one of the many opportunities they use to educate local youth. Because Rockaway is economically disadvantaged, the RWA’s work toward and advocacy for local environmental justice is extremely important to the community’s environmental health.

When I first heard of this boating trip to Jamaica Bay, I was bursting with excitement. Yes! Jamaica, here I come! Beaches, waterfalls, zip lining, hopping nightlife! Time for a disclaimer: I am an intern from the Southeast. Northeast geography is as foreign to me as the things people eat on Fear Factor. In hindsight, I realize I was being completely unrealistic about the range of the EPA boat the Clean Waters. We would not, in fact, be sailing to the Caribbean. What we did get to do, however, was spend time with a group of engaging young people with astounding intellectual curiosity.

The crew of the Clean Waters demonstrated what a typical sample collecting trip would entail. First, we discussed all the aspects of sampling: planning, procedures, training, quality assurance, data processing, and result interpretation. Then the students set off to work on a visual and general assessment of the sampling site. How deep is the water, what color is it, what is the latitude and longitude? After that it was on to the fun stuff: water sampling. This training and demonstration included two general types of sampling—in situ and grab. In situ, translated loosely from the Latin to “on site,” means that the monitoring is done on location and without moving the object. Grab sampling is when the object is moved from its location to be analyzed elsewhere. It is the difference between taking a picture of a fish (in situ) and catching the fish and bringing it to a laboratory (grab). Often, these samples can be compared as a means of checking each other.

For the first water quality test, the students placed a Secchi disk into the water. The Secchi disk is a type of in situ sampling. This disk is divided into quarters which are painted alternating black and white. The students lowered the disk into the bay until they could no longer see the pattern. By finding this depth, they found the transparency of the water. More

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.