The Vermont Green Infrastructure Toolkit is a project of the ten Regional Planning Commissions of the Vermont Association for Planning and Development Agencies (VAPDA) and the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources’ Watershed Management Division. In collaboration with the Vermont Planning Information Center, these webpages will serve a clearinghouse of information useful to Vermont municipalities to explore how to promote the adoption of Green Infrastructure policies and practices to combat the problems caused by urban, suburban and rural stormwater runoff.
Stormwater runoff is a major cause of environmental damage in Vermont. When rain falls in undeveloped areas, the water is absorbed and filtered by soil and plants. When rain falls on parking lots, on roofs, on driveways and roads, however, the water cannot soak into the ground. In urban and suburban areas of Vermont, stormwater is drained through engineered collection systems and discharged into nearby waterbodies. The stormwater carries trash, bacteria, heavy metals, and other pollutants from the urban landscape, degrading the quality of the receiving waters. Higher flows can also cause erosion and flooding in urban streams, damaging habitat, property, and infrastructure. However, even in rural Vermont, stormwater causes problems. Runoff from private driveways and municipal roads (whether paved, gravel or dirt) runs into roadside ditches. In heavy storms, this stormwater erodes the edges of roads and washes out culverts causing damage to both private and public infrastructure and causing excess silt, salt, sand and phosphorus to be washed into streams and lakes.
Green Infrastructure (GI) means different things to different people depending on the context in which it is used. In Vermont we define it as “a wide range of multi-functional, natural and semi-natural landscape elements located within, around, and between developed areas at all spatial scales.” It includes everything from forests and meadows to wetlands, floodplains, and riparian areas.
For municipalities Green Infrastructure can be promoted in two ways: by using Low Impact Development (LID) concepts at both the macro-level of town planning and site design and by promoting the use of Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) practices and techniques. LID seeks to maintain a site’s pre-development ecological and hydrological function through the protection, enhancement, or mimicry of natural processes.” GSI consists of systems and practices that restore and maintain natural hydrologic processes in order to reduce the volume and water quality impacts of the built environment while providing multiple societal benefits.”
The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources has created several useful handouts to describe both LID and GSI. Download your copies by clicking below:
Low Impact Development Fact Sheet (Vermont ANR)
Green Stormwater Infrastructure Fact Sheet (Vermont ANR)
For Vermont’s towns, cities and villages, the promotion of Green Infrastructure can serve to not only improve water quality but also in the long term, reduce the impacts of stormwater flows on municipal infrastructure and private property.
Explore the following links to see how Green Infrastructure can be implemented in your municipality:
Technology (Green Stormwater Infrastructure practices and techniques)
Green Infrastructure Calculators and Sizing Tools
Green Infrastructure, Low Impact Development and the overall issue of Stormwater are constantly changing. There are numerous organizations and agencies around the U.S. and the world that work on these issues on a daily basis. Check out the links below frequently to stay up to date on these rapidly involving issues:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Green Infrastructure
Center for Watershed Protection Stormwater
Water Environment Federation
Local Government Environmental Assistance Network Stormwater
International Stormwater Best Management Practices Database