Members of DEP’s Citizens Advisory Council, along with legislators, local, state and federal environmental officials, Tuesday toured eight innovative projects in Lancaster to learn how the city has addressed environmental challenges such as stormwater management through the use of green infrastructure.
Green infrastructure uses natural materials such as soil and plants to help increase the amount of water that’s absorbed when it rains. It is particularly beneficial in cities or towns that often have more impervious surfaces and fewer natural areas.
“Managing stormwater is one of the biggest environmental challenges our cities and towns face today,” DEP Acting Secretary Patrick McDonnell said. “Finding new and innovative ways to reduce water runoff will improve our local water quality as well as help us meet our goals for reducing pollution to the Chesapeake Bay.”
“Many of our urban communities are challenged with the difficult task of managing runoff from their streets, parking lots and other hard surfaces,” CAC Chairman William Fink said. “Green infrastructure incorporates elements like infiltration trenches, porous paving and other techniques that help these once impervious surfaces function with nature.”
CAC’s mission includes fostering public participation in the environmental policy development process and has served as the voice of citizens to the DEP, the Legislature, and the Governor’s Office for the last 45 years.
The goal of the tour is to gain firsthand knowledge and promote the possible solutions green infrastructure can offer municipalities trying to deal with stormwater mitigation, especially in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
The group toured eight projects that, when combined, have captured and stored an estimated 10.9 million gallons of stormwater that otherwise would have run into the city’s conventional storm drains and eventually to the local water treatment system.
When water moves over hard surfaces, it picks up pollution such as oil, gasoline and other chemicals. Absorbing water in natural areas filters it and reduces the amount that runs off. Creating a patchwork of natural areas as Lancaster has done, reduces the city’s stormwater runoff, improved flood protection and reduces treatment costs.
Click Here for a list of the projects and their environmental benefits.
Similar to the projects on the tour, DEP earlier this month awarded a $200,000 Local Stormwater Best Management Practice (BMP) Implementation Program grant to the city for a water quality improvement project at Long's Park.
The project involves the installation of vegetative swales and floating wetlands to cut down on sediment and nutrient runoff.
For more information, visit Lancaster’s Green Infrastructure webpage. Click Here for a copy of Lancaster’s Green Infrastructure Plan.
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