Green infrastructure feasability plan of New Haven shows promise

Apr 10th, 2012 | By | Category: Top Story

NEW HAVEN, CT — Today, Save the Sound, a program of Connecticut Fund for the Environment, officials from the City of New Haven, the New Haven Water Pollution Control Authority, and the Connecticut Construction Industries Association came together to release the findings of a Green Infrastructure Feasibility Scan of New Haven, Save the Sound reports.

The scan, which was funded by Save the Sound and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and completed by national environmental engineering firm Hazen & Sawyer, looks at several neighborhoods in New Haven and highlights areas where both residential and commercial green infrastructure techniques could occur.

Bio-retentionareas can capture stormwater runoff from sidewalks.

Bio-retentionareas can capture stormwater runoff from sidewalks.

“The scan released today shows great promise for New Haven,” said Curt Johnson, program director for CFE/Save the Sound. “With roughly 627 million gallons of raw sewage overflowing into our rivers, the Sound and surrounding environments each year, the scan addresses specific areas and neighborhoods in New Haven where green infrastructure techniques can help reduce these harmful and dangerous overflows. This feasibility scan is the first important step in demonstrating how Connecticut could significantly benefit by implementing cost-effective green infrastructure initiatives to help preserve and protect our treasured environment.”

Green infrastructure techniques use the known benefits of natural systems that provide pollution reduction through the use of soil and vegetation to trap, filter, and infiltrate stormwater.

The areas highlighted in the scan in New Haven include the Quinnipiac Park vicinity, John S. Martinez School, Yale University campus courtyard, and the intersection of Whalley Avenue and Norton Parkway.

“Our state, Long Island Sound, and our overall environmental health are at a crossroad. Either we choose to make smart infrastructure investments now, or we fall further behind in addressing the challenges we face as a state,” said State Representative Roland Lemar (D-New Haven, Hamden). “Either we choose to accept that every couple of years over a billion gallons of raw sewage and stormwater slurry end up in the Sound, or we decide we want a cleaner, healthier, more vibrant resource for generations to come. Either we start training for and building a green jobs base now, or we will pay for it many times over in the future. In the end, these investments in green infrastructure will save our state, cities, and taxpayers money. These investments will create new jobs in the green economy; they will illustrate our shared commitment to the health and well-being of our environment; and they will ensure that they Long Island Sound remain an economic, recreational and environmental treasure for our state.”

“Green infrastructure techniques like rain gardens, permeable pavement and rain barrels are common sense ways to naturally filter stormwater and reduce the amount of harmful sewage discharged into the Long Island Sound, and do so less expensively than traditional techniques,” said New Haven Mayor John DeStefano. “The City is excited to look into how we can incorporate these suggestions into some of our existing engineering and infrastructure projects.”

“Introducing green infrastructure concepts into the Greater New Haven Water Pollution Control Authority service area is exciting news,” said Tom Sgroi, director of engineering for the Greater New Haven Water Pollution Control Authority. “This forwarding thinking approach moves rainwater into the ground and promotes vegetative growth while reducing flows to some of the 600 miles of piping systems we own and operate.  Reduced flows into our sewers results in treatment cost savings to our rate payers along with the benefit of reducing the volume of sewage overflow into New Haven Harbor.”

At each of these locations, the scan proposes the incorporation of certain green infrastructure techniques, including permeable pavement, bio-retention, rainwater harvesting, and blue roofs.

In addition to being a cost-effective way to mitigate pollution and flooding from stormwater overflow, the implementation of green infrastructure techniques in the city would create new jobs and help to boost the local economy.

“Construction contractors build the infrastructure projects and systems that help manage stormwater and wet weather flows,” said Matthew Hallisey, executive director of the Connecticut Environmental and Utilities Contractors Association. “We appreciate the efforts of those who contributed to the feasibility scan and the work of Connecticut Fund for the Environment in continuing to address the benefits of green infrastructure. Findings in the report will help protect the environment and the health of our citizens and improve quality of life; establish an infrastructure to support growth and development; and create jobs and generate economic activity.”

A new joint report by American Rivers, the Water Environment Federation, the American Society of Landscape Architects, and ECONorthwest further highlights the economic impact of stormwater runoff and the benefits of utilizing green infrastructure techniques. The report can be found at www.americanrivers.org.

Save the Sound’s full Green Infrastructure Feasibility Scan can be found on www.ctenvironment.org.

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