Guidance recently issued by the U.S. EPA details the Obama administration’s national strategy for encouraging municipalities to utilize existing and new green infrastructure to help alleviate climate change. The EPA guidance document, which was released on February 22 and can be read in its entirety here, encourages municipalities to review local ordinances and planning documents to encourage the use of green infrastructure techniques which mimic natural processes such as the use of vegetation to slow down the flow of stormwater and to capture runoff before undiluted pollutants from paved surfaces can enter stormwater and combined sewer sanitary systems. Such techniques also include tree plantings, green roofs, wetland construction, permeable pavement installation, and drainage swells.
The EPA has promoted the use of green infrastructure since 2007, and, in 2013, the agency outlined national a green infrastructure strategy that encouraged the use of these techniques to meet water quality standards, and to write Clean Water Act permits. While not forcing states to incorporate these techniques into their National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (”NPDES”) permitting processes, the policy urges federal and state permitting agencies to identify quantitative and qualitative monitoring priorities for the use of such techniques at federal and regional watershed levels, and to adopt standardized monitoring and reporting protocols to require specific monitoring and reporting requirements in NPDES permits.
The policy also encourages municipalities to retrofit existing parks, sidewalks and streets with green infrastructure to manage stormwater and to lower the cost of treating stormwater at the same time. The policy also recommends that municipalities identify highly visible projects that will benefit the public and improve water and air quality. According to the policy, implementing projects in public spaces can showcase the aesthetic appeal of green infrastructure and practices and provide a visual demonstration of how they can function.
For more information on the policy, please contact Phillip Hoover.