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Assessing the Costs and Benefits of Green Infrastructure

In the latest edition of the Center for Watershed Protection's Runoff Rundown, Hye Yeong Kwon contributed a thought-provoking article. In "Runoff Ramblings: Before You Join the Green Infrastructure Bandwagon", Kwon analyzes the more-recent popularity of green infrastructure for stormwater management. Frequently cited as the most cost-effective approach for development and redevelopment, Kwon calls for more research to be done to assess the costs and benefits of green instructure. One of the most interesting points Kwon makes in the is that green infrastructure "is just one piece of the puzzle and is certainly not a "magic bullet" solution for municipalities on a limited budget."

I hope there's much more follow up and discussion on these ideas! The Center for Watershed Protection is calling for readers to send in their own cost data to

Have any of you done more extensive research on this topic that you can share? I think it's important for a variety of management methods to be considered. And on StormwaterPA we do our best to present a range of case studies. What has your experience been with the costs and benefits of different stormwater management methods?

Comments (1)

  1. Stacey Detwiler:
    Mar 02, 2012 at 10:56 AM

    American Rivers, along with partners ASLA and WEF, will be releasing a report at the end of the month on the economic benefits of green infrastructure practices. We examine the current understanding of the cost-effectiveness of these practices and look at how they can also increase energy efficiency and reduce energy costs, reduce localized flooding, and protect public health.

    Not only can the green infrastructure option cost less, these practices can also provide cost savings from reduced costs of treating large amounts of polluted runoff. Treating less water can also translate into energy savings. Green infrastructure can help reduce current and projected energy costs by keeping heating and cooling costs low. Reducing runoff volumes by infiltrating rainwater where it falls can also mitigate localized flooding. Green infrastructure practices reduce bacteria and pollutant loads in surface waters which can lower healthcare costs from gastrointestinal illnesses from recreational contact or contaminated drinking water. Improving local water quality can minimize the economic impacts of beach and shellfish fishery closures. These solutions can also improve air quality which helps reduce asthma rates, mitigate the urban heat island effect to lower heat stress related fatalities, and improve and increase green space for recreation.

    There is no 'silver bullet' solution to polluted runoff, but green infrastructure practices offer a 21st century tool to address our current water management challenges that also provide multiple benefits to communities.

    Stay tuned for more!

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