When Tropical Storm Irene battered New England communities in 2011, it didn't just overwhelm our riverbanks and tide breaks. It also--highlighted the vulnerability of the mechanisms we've relied on to control storm and flood waters for 50 years--tunnels, sewers, and pipes--in the face of bigger and more destructive storms.
Its not just super storms and hurricanes that are overpowering this old infrastructure, however. Climate change has already increased annual rainfall in New England and made extreme weather events more frequent. Flash floods are more common as a result, and with them have come skyrocketing costs to cities, towns, and homeowners for repairs and clean up after the waters have receded.
That's just one of the reasons why CLF is pushing hard to make green infrastructure a central part of stormwater and flood management across the region. As you'll read in our cover story, its potential to prevent polluted stormwater from fouling our waterways is dramatic. But by absorbing more stormwater into the ground as it falls, the potential to reduce flood risks--and costs--is equally significant.
In this way, green infrastructure benefits both the environment and the economy. The savings from fewer flood events are easy to quantify, but green infrastructure can also cost less to implement and maintain than traditional "gray" infrastructure. And, with green infrastructure in place, we use less energy for heating and cooling buildings; reduce costs for water treatment, since there's less to treat in the first place; and lower carbon emissions.
Even if we could adequately adapt our current infrastructure to...