By Aaron Ferster
Rain can fall as a drizzle, a steady patter, or a deluge. It can bring life to crops, recharge aquifers, and douse wildfires. But in many instances and places, it can also bring trouble.
Stormwater—particularly flowing over urban and suburban landscapes with their abundance of pavement, roofs, and other impermeable surfaces—is a major source of pollution reaching the nation’s waterways. As it flows from the land and into storm drains, such runoff absorbs excess nutrients, oils, and other contaminants. Large storms and Spring melt events can also overwhelm municipal sewer systems, leading to overflows that include not only tainted runoff, but raw sewage as well.
The end result can mean impaired water bodies locally as well as far downstream.
EPA scientists and engineers are helping. Their research is advancing low-cost, innovative solutions, “green infrastructure,” that communities can tap to improve stormwater management and protect the health of their waterways.
Green infrastructure refers to techniques that enhance or mimic nature to absorb, pool, slow, and cleanse stormwater where it falls. It can take many forms, from rain barrels and local rain gardens to watershed-scale strategic plans that identify collective actions of “best practices” to employ across communities.
EPA researchers are providing the data, knowledge, and tools needed to advance green infrastructure for healthier, more sustainable communities. They are leading the effort to identify and quantify the beneficial impacts of green infrastructure and share what they learn with Agency partners.
To learn more about green infrastructure and ask questions, please join our researchers tomorrow (October 29, 2014) from 2:00-3:00pm ET on twitter. Questions should be sent to #EnvSciChat.
You can also read more in our latest EPA Science Matters Newsletter: Green Infrastructure Research.
About the Author: EPA science writer Aaron Ferster is the editor of It All Starts with Science.