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Green Streets Goals
Stormwater Management

Green Streets minimize impervious coverage, and utilize the natural water retention and absorption provided by native vegetation and permeable soils to reduce both stormwater runoff volumes and peak flows.  Increasing the permeability of ground cover allows stormwater runoff to infiltrate the ground, reducing the volume of runoff entering storm sewer systems and watersheds. Reduction in stormwater volumes can minimize the rate and severity of flood events, as well as the negative economic, societal and environmental impacts of flooding.

Maintain Drinking Water Supply

Green infrastructure allows stormwater to naturally infiltrate soils, improving the recharge rate for groundwater aquifers. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, groundwater provides approximately “40% of the water needed to maintain normal base flow rates in our rivers and streams.”  Therefore, green infrastructure can replenish groundwater supplies through more rapid and effective infiltration of stormwater.

Improve Environment and Public Health

Green infrastructure provides additional environmental and public health benefits, including improving water and air quality as well as mitigating the impacts of urban heat islands. Left untreated, stormwater can sheet flow across paved surfaces into streams and rivers, all the while collecting chemicals such as engine oil or pesticides, bacteria from animal refuse and other pollutants, which end up contaminating watersheds.  This process is very common in Passaic County’s urban areas, where both the Molly Ann Brook and Goffle Brook do not meet NJDEP surface water quality standards.  Green infrastructure enables stormwater to infiltrate near its source, preventing sheet runoff, and allowing soil to filter runoff before it enters nearby streams and rivers.  Green infrastructure and low-impact development encourage vegetation and street trees as design elements, which filter and absorb air pollution.  In addition to pollutants, increased vegetation can capture and remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through photosynthesis.  Green infrastructure can also provide much needed wildlife habitat, recreational areas and open space. Trees and increased vegetation cool air temperature, which reduces energy demands for air conditioning, and slows the formation of ground-level ozone or smog, a known contributor to childhood asthma. In addition to reducing asthma rates attributed to ground-level ozone, increased green space in cities has been linked to other public health benefits such as lower childhood obesity rates and reduced hyperactivity. 

Better Quality of Life for Passaic County Residents

While serving the active infrastructure functions of stormwater management, groundwater recharge, and filtering air and water pollutants, green infrastructure will also beautify Passaic County’s public spaces and roadways. Increasing the number and variety of shade trees is the first step toward a more aesthetically pleasing urban environment, enhanced by other design elements including stormwater planters, rain gardens and vegetated roadways. Studies show that vegetation and green spaces in urban areas reduces inner-city crime and violence yet increases recreational opportunities and a sense of community.  Similar studies show increased academic performance and concentration among children in greener cities.  Green infrastructure design elements have been implemented all across the United States, in rural and urban communities alike.  Case studies from many urban areas demonstrate increases in surrounding property values when green infrastructure is integrated into site design and streetscapes.

Decrease Capital Costs of Public Infrastructure

Green infrastructure can provide decreased capital costs for the County of Passaic, and tax relief to residents. Valuing green infrastructure requires not only comparing the design and construction, operation, and maintenance costs of traditional infrastructure, but accounting for avoided damages, such as property loss during flood events, added value, such as higher property values, and benefits to the environment and public health, such as decreased medical costs for residents.  Many of the costs and benefits of green infrastructure are unquantifiable, including hazard mitigation, wildlife habitat, or a better quality of life for Passaic County residents. Green infrastructure therefore provides “net benefits” to the County.  According to the Center for Clean Air Policy, “Green alleys or streets, rain barrels, and tree planting are estimated to be 3-6 times more effective in managing storm-water per $1,000 invested than conventional methods.”