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Green Infrastructure

Washburn, Maureen (2015) Green Infrastructure. Technical Report. UNSPECIFIED.

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The passage of the 1972 Clean Water Act transformed American rivers and streams from industrial dumping grounds into waterways suitable for drinking, navigation, and recreation. Despite years of progress, however, the work of protecting and maintaining Southwestern Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable waterways is far from complete. Frequent rainfall and outdated sewer infrastructure produce a set of hazardous conditions that degrade waterways and threaten human health. As a result, many communities throughout the region fall short of environmental compliance. As regulators converge on Southwestern Pennsylvania, residents and regional leaders are seeking a sustainable, cost-effective solution to their wet weather crisis. Traditionally, gray infrastructure—the system of underground pipes and tanks that conveys wastewater to sewage treatment facilities—was considered the only reliable means of preventing polluted stormwater from entering rivers and streams. Recently, however, a reliable and natural alternative has emerged. Green infrastructure, an approach that aims to replicate natural hydrologic processes by managing stormwater where it falls, could offer an alternative to the reliance upon costly, large-scale gray infrastructure expansion. Beyond its water management function, green infrastructure offers a number of community benefits, including its ability to improve neighborhood aesthetics, increase property values, provide cleaner air, moderate temperatures, reduce crime, and generate community engagement. Local champions of green infrastructure hail from academia, philanthropy, government, and the community—and their numbers are growing. These regional leaders and their vision for Southwestern Pennsylvania have hastened the development of green infrastructure throughout the region, producing a number of innovative projects strategically located in areas of high need. Despite their efforts, however, green infrastructure remains concentrated in small pockets of the region. Realizing the full benefits of green infrastructure requires community buy-in and a strategic watershed-based approach to planning and installation. Before green infrastructure can be considered a feasible and reliable alternative to gray infrastructure, green experts must precisely quantify its costs and benefits and formalize approaches to design and installation that are region specific. When these benefits and technologies are better understood, regional leaders can begin the work of bringing green technologies to every community in the region. Developing a green infrastructure industry in Southwestern Pennsylvania will take time. Successful implementation requires up-front investments in research, planning, and community engagement. Green technology must be proven and trusted before it can be widely applied. This report recommends that Southwestern Pennsylvania pursue green infrastructure in two distinct phases: first, research and planning, and second, engagement and expansion.


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Item Type: Monograph (Technical Report)
Status: Published
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Washburn, Maureen
Centers: Other Centers, Institutes, Offices, or Units > Institute of Politics
Monograph Type: Technical Report
Date: March 2015
Date Type: Publication
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Refereed: No
Date Deposited: 27 Jul 2016 20:22
Last Modified: 20 Dec 2018 00:56


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