Green Infrastructure: Enhancing Resiliency and Sustainable Stormwater Management

Green Infrastructure: Enhancing Resiliency and Sustainable Stormwater Management

BREC’S COMMITMENT TO RESILIENCY AND SUSTAINABLE STORMWATER MANAGEMENT

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The great flood of 2016 served as a powerful reminder of the importance of green infrastructure in East Baton Rouge Parish and the surrounding areas. BREC parks, specifically larger community parks like Greenwood, Howell, Airline Highway, Burbank Soccer Complex, and Central Sports Park, played a vital role in holding stormwater through their open space. In fact, our parks held nearly 10 billion gallons of floodwater during the 2016 flood, equivalent to filling Tiger Stadium 71 times. This prevented widespread devastation by keeping the floodwater away from homes and businesses.

Committed to providing essential outdoor spaces for our Parish residents, BREC manages and conserves 6,600 acres of parks. Our parks contribute to the conservation, health, wellness, and social equity of our local community. Recognizing that our parks can offer more than just recreational benefits, BREC aims to maximize their potential as ecosystem services. By naturally absorbing and retaining stormwater runoff, reducing flooding, mitigating urban heat island effects, and sequestering carbon, our parks play a crucial role in sustainable resilience planning and design. As land use changes throughout the Parish, incorporating green infrastructure elements into our parks helps protect existing natural lands while providing valuable ecosystem services to the public.

WHAT IS GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE?

Green infrastructure refers to an interconnected network of open green spaces and parks that conserve natural ecosystem values, maintain clean air and water quality, and enhance local resiliency. It also involves a nature-based approach to stormwater management that either protects, restores, or mimics the natural water cycle. Various green infrastructure types and strategies, such as bioswales, native plantings, green roofs, permeable pavement, rain gardens, and rain barrels, are designed with the common purpose of slowing down, storing, and filtering stormwater.

Green Infrastructure: Enhancing Resiliency and Sustainable Stormwater Management

The concept behind green infrastructure is to mimic the natural water management processes of wetlands, forests, and prairies. Typically, natural ecosystems employ six methods to manage rainwater:

  • Infiltration – Water soaks into the soil.
  • Storage – Water is held in rivers, creeks, ponds, lakes, wetlands, or deep groundwater reservoirs.
  • Evapotranspiration – Water is released into the atmosphere through evaporation and transpiration by plants.
  • Interception – Rainfall is caught and held by leaves, branches, or other plant matter.
  • Runoff – Stormwater lands on already saturated soil or impermeable ground, causing it to flow overland to the lowest point.
  • Uptake – Plant roots transport water and nutrients from the soil into the plant.

Green Infrastructure: Enhancing Resiliency and Sustainable Stormwater Management

In contrast, a city’s gray infrastructure, including drainage systems, gutters, storm drains, pipes, and canals, aims to quickly remove stormwater from paved surfaces. Green infrastructure, on the other hand, intercepts runoff before it reaches paved surfaces, effectively reducing the impact on gray infrastructure. Additionally, green infrastructure filters pollutants and sediments from the water, benefiting the environment and reducing maintenance and construction costs associated with gray infrastructure. The advantages of green infrastructure are further described below.

Green Infrastructure: Enhancing Resiliency and Sustainable Stormwater Management

By embracing green infrastructure, we can create a more resilient and sustainable community. BREC’s commitment to incorporating green infrastructure elements into our parks not only protects our natural lands but also ensures that our parks provide valuable ecosystem services to our residents. Let’s work together to conserve our environment and enhance the quality of life in East Baton Rouge Parish.

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