Green Stormwater Infrastructure – beauty with a bonus

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In any neighborhood, having a sense of place enhances quality of life. You may be surprised to hear that stormwater management can actually contribute to this! Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) is a innovative way of managing stormwater to reduce flooding and keep our streams and lakes healthy. GSI can be simple, such as a rain garden, or more complicated, like green roofs and rainwater catchment systems. What all of these systems have in common is that they mimic nature so water can absorb into the ground and filter naturally. This reduces flooding and cleans our water.

But GSI provides other advantages to communities, though not always obvious at first glance.

GSI projects often feature native plants and flowers, which beautify the neighborhood and contribute to a sense of place. They also create green, open spaces for residents to enjoy, which improves mental and physical health (Wolf and Flora, 2010). With all these benefits, GSI is a logical design choice for both local governments and private developers.

Many urban governments want to promote infill development rather than sprawl. Infill developments are a great way for green infrastructure to bring all of the previously mentioned benefits to a neighborhood. Historically industrial areas or underserved communities often provide some of the best opportunities for GSI, and will see high community benefits from this type of investment. In this way, GSI can also serve as a conduit to lift neighborhoods out of poverty (Dunn, 2010).

In any community, providing a sense of place for residents is important. But in urban settings it can be particularly challenging, especially when local governments have so many other priorities. This is why WakeUP is working closely with the City of Raleigh to advance a groundbreaking Green Stormwater Infrastructure workplan that will encourage private and public use of these tools across the city. As more GSI projects start going in, Raleigh will have cleaner streams and happier, healthier, more beautiful neighborhoods!

Want to learn more? Check out our page on stormwater and GSI.

Dunn, A. 2010. Siting Green Infrastructure: Legal and Policy Solutions to Alleviate Urban Poverty and Promote Healthy Communities. In: Environmental Affairs. Vol. 37:41, pg. 41.

Wolf, K.L., and K. Flora 2010. Mental Health and Function – A Literature Review. In: Green Cities: Good Health (www.greenhealth.washington.edu). College of the Environment, University of Washington.