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Water Quality

A New Handbook and Case Studies on Green Infrastructure Design for Low Impact Development and Stormwater Management

Friday, October 28, 2011  by tday

The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) has recently published a handbook and 479 case studies on green infrastructure and stormwater management.  The  handbook and case studies respond to a recent request of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to collect case studies on landscaping projects that mimic natural processes to evapo-transpire, infiltrate and recharge, and harvest and reuse stormwater.  The handbook and 479 case studies document green infrastructure and low-impact development (LID) stormwater management projects that emulate natural processes as alternatives to higher cost traditional systems that sometimes required off-site treatment of stormwater runoff. 

One of the projects featured in the ASLA case studies is the Greening Virginia's Capitol project of Chris Hale, ASLA, LEED AP, which was featured in his presentation at the September 2011 Conference sponsored by this Committee. Other projects documented range from single-family homes to large commercial centers.  The projects feature both new and retrofitted sites.

Three of the case studies featured are projects undertaken by churches.  The First Presbyterian Church of Stillwater, Minnesota, redeveloped its asphalt-paved parking lot to reduce hazards for cars and pedestrians. Using a mix of porous pavement promenades, rain gardens, and other techniques, it created a visually appealing, shaded promenade that adds visual interest and more effectively conveys the stewardship concerns of the congregation. 

St. Augustine Catholic Church in Brighton, Colorado, undertook a smaller, but similar project to reduce overload on Brighton’s storm sewer system.  The retrofit also involved replacing an asphalt-paved lot with porous pavers. 

The most extensive of the church projects featured was undertaken by St. Mary’s Greek Orthodox Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  The church improvements including use of existing flat roofs for water retention, soy-based chamber storage systems, rain gardens, and irrigation systems to reuse captured stormwater. An important incentive in financing the project was a waiver of the $10,000 in annual stormwater fees that the church had previously been paying for wastewater treatment.

EPA’s request to the ASLA was prompted by its recently initiated national rulemaking to establish a comprehensive program to reduce stormwater runoff from new development and re-development projects, and to make other improvements to strengthen its stormwater program. A specific concern during the EPA rulemaking has been to evaluate sustainable green infrastructure design techniques.  Green infrastructure design generally results in less costly solutions for stormwater management than traditional grey infrastructure projects. The case studies detail means by which green infrastructure and low-impact development (LID) approaches can improve the quality of the water supply and save communities millions of dollars each year.

The ASLA project overview:  http://www.asla.org/ContentDetail.aspx?id=31301

First Presbyterian Church of Stillwater Redevelopment (links to contacts and additional images in the ASLA write-up),

St. Augustine Catholic Church, Brighton, Colorado  (links to contacts and additional images in the ASLA write-up),

St. Mary’s Greek Orthodox Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota  (links to contacts and additional images in the ASLA write-up),

The Greening Virginia's Capitol Project  (links to contacts and additional images in the ASLA write-up),

For a list of all ASLA case studies:  http://www.asla.org/stormwatercasestudies.aspx#virginia

EPA Rule Making Objectives and Documents: http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/stormwater/rulemaking.cfm

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Philadelphia's Green Strategy for Water Quality Management

Saturday, September 10, 2011  by tday

With the consent of the EPA, Philadelphia on June 1, 2011, adopted a $1.2 billion plan for remediation of pollution from its sewers and stormwater drains that will rely to an unprecedented degree on “green” technologies: stormwater tree trenches, porous asphalt, rain gardens, sidewalk planters, green roofs, and changes in landscaping to capture rainwater where it falls ‑ the same types of measures that churches and households can adopt to reduce their stormwater effluent. The plan has received overwhelming support from Philadelphia’s citizens. 

Philadelphia’s shift to green technologies for water quality management began to take hold in 1999.  Until then, the city’s plans for water management were “all about pipes.”  Its new, more integrated approach aims to “revitalize the land” so that the rivers and streams running through the city are safe and accessible for fishing and swimming.  The key has been finding means to emulate natural systems in a dense urban setting.  In a typical urban setting, with 70 to 100 percent impervious surface area, any heavy rain overwhelms water management systems with the result that untreated overflows discharge directly into rivers and streams destroying riparian habitat even when relatively “clean.”

Under the plan, investments in green technologies will constitute $800 million of the capital improvement budget. Philadelphia will still make some continued investments in pipes and enhanced water treatment facilities, $275 million for pipes and treatment facilities, and another $125 million for contingencies and environmental restoration, including investments in open space. The alternative, however, an $8 billion investment in four massive detention tunnels would have cost more than 6 times as much, would have created only temporary jobs, and would not have produced any collateral benefit for air quality.

http://www.sustainablecitynetwork.com/topic_channels/water/article_b296460c-8caa-11e0-93e0-001a4bcf6878.html (video and additional background)

To learn more about the Stewardship of Creation Committee, please visit http://www.caringforgodscreation.net/default.asp)

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