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Green Infrastructure


Green Infrastructure Element of the Passaic County Master Plan

The Passaic County Department of Planning and Economic Development, through a grant from the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA), has completed the Green Stormwater Infrastructure Element of the Passaic County Master Plan. The Element outlines a comprehensive strategy for stormwater management based on widespread application of low impact development and green stormwater infrastructure. A public hearing on the matter was held at the November 29th, 2018 meeting of the Passaic County Planning Board and the Element was approved by voice vote. On January 10th, 2019, the Board passed a resolution adopting the Element as part of the Passaic County Master Plan. Printed copies of the adopted Element are available for public viewing at the Passaic County Department of Planning & Economic Development offices (930 Riverview Dr., Ste. 250, Totowa). The Element is available in digital format by section below:

  1. Main Report
  2. Appendix A1: Stormwater Management Guidance Manual
  3. Appendix A2: Green Streets Guidelines
  4. Appendix A3: Land Development Regulations (Summary of Recommendations)
  5. Appendix A4: Municipal Ordinances (Summary of Recommendations)
  6. Appendix A5: Potential Funding Sources for Stormwater Infrastructure
  7. Appendix A6: Tools for Measuring GSI Benefits
  8. Appendix A7: Analysis of County Site Plan & Subdivision Applications (2007-2017)

Additional project materials are included as Appendix B:

  1. Appendix B1: TAC/IT Meeting Materials
  2. Appendix B2: Stakeholder Focus Group & Interview Materials
  3. Appendix B3: Public Outreach Plan
  4. Appendix B4: Public Outreach Materials
  5. Appendix B5: GI/LID Reference Document Review

What is Green Infrastructure?

Green infrastructure is a cost-effective, resilient approach to managing wet weather impacts that provides many community benefits. While single-purpose gray stormwater infrastructure—conventional piped drainage and water treatment systems—is designed to move urban stormwater away from the built environment, green infrastructure reduces and treats stormwater at its source while delivering environmental, social, and economic benefits. 

Stormwater runoff is a major cause of water pollution in urban areas. When rain falls on our roofs, streets, and parking lots in cities and their suburbs, the water cannot soak into the ground as it should. Stormwater drains through gutters, storm sewers, and other engineered collection systems and is discharged into nearby water bodies. The stormwater runoff carries trash, bacteria, heavy metals, and other pollutants from the urban landscape. Higher flows resulting from heavy rains also can cause erosion and flooding in urban streams, damaging habitat, property, and infrastructure.

When rain falls in natural, undeveloped areas, the water is absorbed and filtered by soil and plants. Stormwater runoff is cleaner and less of a problem. Green infrastructure uses vegetation, soils, and other elements and practices to restore some of the natural processes required to manage water and create healthier urban environments. At the city or county scale, green infrastructure is a patchwork of natural areas that provides habitat, flood protection, cleaner air, and cleaner water. At the neighborhood or site scale, stormwater management systems that mimic nature soak up and store water.

Goals and Objectives

The objective of the Passaic County Green Stormwater Infrastructure Element is to provide the tools necessary to design, budget and implement green infrastructure improvements through the County’s development review process, capital improvement projects, and as a resource to municipalities.  

The Element includes several best management practices and engineering details that can be used as the County updates the site plan and subdivision standards ultimately adopted by the Passaic County Board of Chosen Freeholders.  The revised land use standards will incorporate requirements for applicants to install and maintain green stormwater infrastructure.  The Green Streets section of the Element outlines several typical cross-sections and details that can be implemented along County and municipal roadways as part of capital improvement projects.  

The Green Streets guidance focuses on communities impacted by repetitive flooding, watershed areas that prioritize water quality and recharge, as well as combined sewer overflow areas.  The Element has been designed to provide guidance and research that will aid in cost benefit analysis needed when designing any green infrastructure project including the design, construction and maintenance of projects.  Lastly, the Element also includes a summary of recommendations for municipalities to develop their own green infrastructure policies. 

Element Description

The Passaic County Green Stormwater Infrastructure Element will impact the region by providing the analysis needed to implement green infrastructure and low impact design improvements through all County processes and serve as a resource to local municipalities.  

The goals of the Element relate to the NJTPA Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) in that reducing and/or mitigating the impacts of stormwater events will help maintain a safe and reliable transportation system that is often inundated by routine storm events along with major events such as Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy.  

The Element will work towards coordinating transportation and land use systems through the County’s capital improvements and development review process.  The Element also addresses the goals of MAP-21 and the Regional Plan for Sustainable Development (RPSD) in that it will improve system reliability that is impacted by storm events, directly improve environmental sustainability through stormwater quality and quantity improvements, and add resiliency that will promote more investment throughout the County.