Green infrastructure such as permeable surfaces, biological retention systems, and green roofing all help to reduce the amount of runoff released. Each of these methods help capture and store excess rainwater. With ever-growing populations, growing cities pave more and more landscape. Unfortunately, non-permeable surfaces are the predominant choice for developers. Non-permeable surfaces transport nearly 100% of the rainwater directly into storm drains where it must be treated and eventually released back into the environment. Methods such as permeable surfaces, biological retention systems, and green roofing all help to reduce the amount of water that must be treated.
Permeable surfaces are simply surfaces that water can pass through. For example, cement pavers are permeable surfaces because water is able to pass between and infiltrate the ground. Cement slabs, on the other hand are not permeable because there is nowhere for the water to flow, aside from to storm drains.
Biological retention systems are areas with living organisms designed to remove pollution from stormwater and let it re-enter the natural hydrological cycle. Some biological retention systems look like small ponds during the rainy season. However, care must be taken to avoid standing water because it attracts potentially dangerous species such as mosquitos.
Green roofing also helps reduce the amount of rainwater that must be treated. Green roofs are specially-constructed to structurally hold substantial weight and be extra waterproof. These roofs are then covered in soil and planted. As a result, the water that would have flowed off the roof and into gutters is now captured by living systems and used in a beneficial process. Not only do green roofs help reduce storm water flows, but they are also attractive alternatives to standard roofing types.
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