Green Infrastructure

Green Infrastructure uses various techniques to treat and absorb rain water, also called stormwater, before it reaches our streams, lakes and rivers. These techniques include bioretention basins, bioswales, filter planter boxes, rain gardens, green roofs, green walls and porous pavement in urban and suburban areas. Many of these techniques incorporate native plants and soil mixtures that keep stormwater from entering our streams and waterways. Stormwater runoff can carry many different types of pollutants from the surrounding area, such as fertilizers, pesticides, oil, grease, animal waste and trash. These pollutants affect the water quality within our streams and can harm the fish and other aquatic animals that live in them.

Bioretention basins, bioswales, rain gardens and filter planter boxes use native plants and soil mixtures that contain mulch to treat stormwater. These plants have evolved to withstand local weather conditions in a region. They will absorb the nutrients from fertilizers and animal waste, utilizing them for their needs. Their roots also create channels within the soil that allow the water to infiltrate into the ground. This helps to replenish our groundwater supplies.

Bioretention Basin at Moses Milch Drive, Howell, NJ

Green roofs and walls incorporate plants and soil on buildings. They can be landscaped with decorative or edible plants and will help filter pollutants absorbed by the rain drops from the air. Porous pavement allows water to pass through it instead of running off it, which helps recharge our groundwater supplies.

Green infrastructure reduces the volume of stormwater from entering our streams. By absorbing water into the soil, instead of entering our waterways, it helps to stop flooding in our streets and homes. This aids in preventing erosion to the stream banks and causing sedimentation to the stream channel. By maintaining these features, water can move along a stream’s course and stay within the banks and wetland areas as intended by nature.

Green infrastructure has many other benefits beside the ones mentioned above. It creates a natural environment that enhances the neighborhood, provides habitat for wildlife and is less costly to maintain. It also prevents the “heat island” effect observed within cities which is produced from asphalt and concrete. By cooling the air temperatures and replenishing water supplies, green infrastructure helps to reduce the impacts of Climate Change.

To learn more about Green Infrastructure, please visit http://www.nj.gov/dep/gi/.