Matthew Farrell: Practical Toolkit from EPA

Recent flooding is likely to continue due to increased rates of precipitation. One way communities can prevent future flooding is to understand the impacts of potential rainfall, the costs of green and grey infrastructure and where best to place stormwater controls.

These questions can be answered with the EPA’s Tool kit:

Or other online tools such as Arc GIS

But how will communities pay for these stormwater upgrades and how will they be maintained?

A stormwater utility generates a fee that can be a separate charge or an extra line item on a water utility bill. Usually, between $5-11 a month, a stormwater utility fee is used to maintain and build Green and Grey infrastructure controls for a local municipality. Green infrastructure is used to describe design controls that utilize the natural drainage capacity of the soil and plant life to drain and absorb water during increased rainfall.

Green Infrastructure includes porous pavement, rain gardens, catch basins, bioswales, trees connected to gravel drainage beds, and more. Grey infrastructure refers to structures that carry stormwater from one area to another. Such as drainage outlets that connect to nearby rivers or wastewater facilities where they can be released and or treated. These controls act to prevent the deadly storm surge that can come from rainfall at increased rates of precipitation. While the average rainfall has not necessarily increased in recent decades the rate of rainfall has drastically increased leading to problems with violent storm surges. The need for Green and Grey infrastructure to prevent harm from flooding has never been more prevalent. 

How can you help? Rain can also be used as a resource.

Rain does not have to enter the existing drainage infrastructure in our municipality. In addition to paying a storm water utility fee, you can also capture the rain fall on our property before it flows into nearby drainage channels. Obtaining rain barrels from a local hardware store or through your municipality, when they are available, is a great way to not only prevent stormwater problems but also store water to use in your garden. Using a garden as a drainage control, known as a rain garden, is another simple way to avoid contributing to stormwater runoff that can carry pollutants into local water bodies. As the rainfall from storms becomes more frequent we will need ways to catch and store water on our properties, not only to prevent excess rainwater from overflowing drain pipes, CSO or community green infrastructure but also to store rainwater for personnel use on our properties to reduce residential demand on municipal water infrastructure.