From Stormwater to Clean Water: New Flood-Control, Pollution Resource for Towns

The related problems of nuisance flooding and polluted waterways are getting worse in our Garden State. To help cities and towns address these problems, New Jersey Future has developed the Green Infrastructure Municipal Toolkit: a one-stop online resource useful to any community in New Jersey, whether new to the opportunities green infrastructure presents or already implementing GI and seeking more specific expert guidance. The toolkit includes detailed information and a variety of tools that cities and towns can use to plan, implement, and sustain green infrastructure in public- and private-sector development projects.

Green infrastructure has become a mainstream stormwater management technique in much of the country. This toolkit will be a big help to New Jersey communities — especially in view of expected updates to the state’s stormwater management rules that will require the use of green infrastructure, making it the go-to strategy for pollution prevention and flood mitigation. And that’s a very good thing.

Rutgers Professor Chris Obropta, a professional engineer and director of the Water Resources Program at Rutgers/NJAES, agrees. “The great majority of New Jersey’s rivers, streams and lakes are impaired,” he said. It’s a real problem, and green infrastructure is an excellent way to start fixing it. Green infrastructure can prevent runoff pollution from most of the rain events we experience in New Jersey.”

Moderate rainfall and brief but powerful downpours can have major impacts on our day-to-day lives. Water often floods streets, making commutes and errands a hassle. Rainwater running off of sidewalks, parking lots, rooftops and lawns carries pollutants like motor oil, trash, fertilizer, pesticides and animal waste into local bodies of water, making lakes and rivers unsuitable for recreation.

For the past few years, New Jersey Future has worked with a few municipalities to integrate green infrastructure into local planning, policies, regulations, and programs. Albert Kelly, mayor of the City of Bridgeton and immediate past president of the New Jersey League of Municipalities, urges his fellow elected officials to take green infrastructure seriously. “You ignore problems like pollution and flooding at your peril,” he said. “Working with community partners, you can make real, visible progress. Your constituents can see the work, and they appreciate that you’re paying attention to problems that affect their quality of life.”

The Green Infrastructure Municipal Toolkit features practical advice and extensive resources organized in three basic categories – planimplement and sustain – to help users navigate the site and approach the overall topic in a systematic fashion. While the primary audience for the toolkit is local elected officials, other important audiences include planning board, environmental commission and green team members, municipal engineers, planners, administrators, and public works superintendents, and local environmental advocates.

The toolkit should prove useful to municipalities just getting started with green infrastructure, as well as to those already familiar with GI. Direct links to Sustainable Jersey actions illustrate a variety of ways that planning for and installing green infrastructure can translate to Sustainable Jersey points toward certification. The toolkit was developed in consultation with the Green Infrastructure Municipal Toolkit Advisory Committee, a group of more than 20 municipal leaders and experts who gave generously of their knowledge, insight and time.

View the toolkit online or download the brochure to share with your colleagues. New Jersey Future will host webinars where you can learn more about the toolkit. Sign up for our email list to be notified of toolkit updates and upcoming webinars.

The Green Infrastructure Municipal Toolkit is a product of New Jersey Future’s Mainstreaming Green Infrastructure program, which aims to move green stormwater infrastructure practices into the mainstream. To accelerate and facilitate the mainstreaming process, New Jersey Future works with municipalities, developers, state agencies, and nonprofit partners to provide education, training, and direct technical assistance.

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