Local governments throughout the United States are dealing with stormwater runoff and its environmental and financial impacts. The environmental degradation that results from stormwater runoff are evident. As the excess water travels over fertilized lawns and asphalt,oil, metals, pesticides, and other toxic contaminants are picked up. According to an article in Governing Magazine,
About 13 percent of U.S. rivers, 18 percent of lakes and 32 percent of estuaries are classified as impaired by stormwater, which means they’re unsafe for swimming or fishing.
Localities have adopted “gray solutions” (i.e. infrastructure advancements) and “green solutions” (i.e. landscaping advancements) to deal with the ever-increasing problem with stormwater runoff.
- Kansas City, Mo., for example, partnered with the EPA to craft a $2.4 billion agreement to reduce combined overflows, which results in annual discharges of 7 billion gallons of raw sewage into the Missouri, Blue and other rivers. “We are on this path because we knew intervention was coming,” says Francis Reddy, project manager for the Kansas City Water Services Department. “Instead of having the feds file a suit, we contacted them.” The plan features a combination of tunnels, sewer rehabilitation, water treatment technologies and green infrastructure, including curbside gardens and rain barrels to sequester stormwater.
- Philadelphia aims to bypass the typical storage tunnels entirely. Instead, the city’s $1.5 billion plan focuses almost exclusively on eco-friendly solutions — bioswales, permeable pavement, street trees — as a way of reducing the city’s 15 billion gallons of annual overflow. According to Howard Neukrug, director of the Philadelphia Water Department’s Office of Watersheds, the city is “wrestling with the EPA” on details of the proposal, including the timeline and metrics for success.