State agencies release progress reports on using “green infrastructure” to achieve clean water
Four State agencies have just released their Annual Green Infrastructure Progress Reports. The reports are a result of an executive order signed by Governor Shumlin in 2012, directing state agencies to promote and demonstrate how we can use natural systems as a cost effective alternative approach to managing stormwater runoff.
In Vermont, stormwater washes pollutants into our rivers and lakes and create risks of flooding in our communities. “Stormwater runoff from rainwater and snowmelt can pollute our waterways and be costly to fix,” explains Rick Hopkins, senior analyst with the Vermont Clean Water Initiative Program. “Green Infrastructure technologies can mitigate these impacts by using nature-like practices to slow down, capture for reuse or infiltrate stormwater into the ground.”
Vermont state agencies are showing off the projects they recently implemented that use “green” rather than “gray” infrastructure to reduce water pollution.
“Green Stormwater Infrastructure includes innovative and cost-effective actions that protect water quality by managing stormwater before it enters sewer systems, drainage ditches and streams,” adds Becky Tharp, an expert with the Lake Champlain Sea Grant Program housed at the University of Vermont. “Green Infrastructure can also help to reduce impacts of flooding while enhancing a community’s aesthetic appeal.”
The reports show significant accomplishments over the past 12 months. The Department of Environmental Conservation and the Lake Champlain Sea Grant Program created a new “Green Infrastructure Collaborative” to raise public awareness and interest in Green Infrastructure across Vermont. As a result, across the state towns are beginning to use Green Infrastructure to improve their resilience to flooding.
Working with the Department of Buildings and General Services, the State implemented innovative natural stormwater management projects at the Vermont Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Randolph, the Lamoille County Courthouse in Hyde Park, and two state office buildings located in Hyde Park and Waterbury. Nearly a dozen other projects were funded with Ecosystem Restoration Grants and new Clean Water Initiative funding.
The Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation also received federal grant funds to develop educational material and provide support to local communities on how to implement Green Infrastructure practices in managing their local roads.
ANR Secretary Deb Markowitz said, “This report shows significant progress in implementing the Governor's executive order on Green Infrastructure. This is important for Vermont because we will need to rely on innovative approaches to manage our stormwater to successfully implement our cleanup plan for Lake Champlain, and to protect our communities from the threat of floods.”
Markowitz added, "In the coming years there is more work to do to help our communities implement Green Infrastructure solutions, and to make this a regular part of the state's stormwater management approach, but we are off to a great start."
The State agency progress reports can be found on the Department of Environmental Conservation’s Green Infrastructure web page.
Rick Hopkins, Dept. of Environmental Conservation
Phone: (802) 490-6115