About a year ago, I wrote in the Center’s Runoff Ramblings about some thoughts on green infrastructure . . .
Before “Green Infrastructure,” there was low impact design, environmentally sensitive site design, conservation design, smart growth, and new urbanism. These concepts are certainly not all synonymous with each other, but they do share similar tenets of reduced environmental impacts…The different definitions of Green Infrastructure have been at the center of this morass. Recently, EPA defined green infrastructure as “an approach to wet weather management that is cost-effective, sustainable, and environmentally friendly” (retrieved on December 27, 2011 from (http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/home.cfm?program_id=298). The traditional use of the term by the conservation planning community refers to the network of natural lands across the landscape – forests, wetlands, stream corridors, grasslands – that work together as a whole to provide ecological benefits. This broad definition includes both landscape-scale natural features and site-scale practices ranging from reduction of impervious cover to stormwater best management practices (BMPs), such as bioretention and stormwater wetlands, and everything in between…”
At the heart of the issue, I highlight the fact that green infrastructure should be defined much more broadly than as a synonym for improved stormwater management practices.
Many peers and colleagues in the watershed and stormwater field seem to have some pretty strong opinions on what green infrastructure is. The range of responses is interesting. A few people wanted to correct what they said was my misuse of the terminology. A few others thought I was against green infrastructure. Yet a handful of others noted that this is a much needed conversation.
As a subscriber of the conservation planning’s definition of green infrastructure which includes a broader array of tools. Recent studies have shown that dry-weather discharges, gross solids, and regenerative stormwater are very promising and in some cases, orders of magnitude more cost-effective than stormwater management best management practices. Studies like the James River Report recently written by the Center shows the true economic benefit of broadening the definition. By broadening the definition and incorporating additional tools, green infrastructure proponents would win, the localities could win, and we could really change the game on pollution removal, particularly in urban areas.
Hye Yeong Kwon
As the Executive Director, Hye Yeong’s responsibilities include organizational management, fund-raising, and program development. With nearly 20 years of experience in nonprofit management and a background in biology, Hye Yeong has combined her education and training to help lead the Center toward a multi-disciplinary strategy to protect and restore watersheds throughout the country. Her project experience has included a wide range of subjects, including environmentally sensitive site design, watershed planning, and consensus building. Hye Yeong has a B.S. in Biology, an M.S. in Management, and an MBA. Hye Yeong lives in Ellicott City with daughters Cassie and Isa, and enjoys playing football, traveling, scuba diving, camping, eating good food, and good company.