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Why It Matters

In older cities, stormwater and sewer systems are often combined, forcing sewage into our waterways during rain events. (Photo by Chris Zurcher of Environmental Headlines.)

Stormwater runoff is a serious water quality problem for our rivers, streams, lakes ponds, and Long Island Sound.

The impermeable surfaces of modern cities, such as pavement and rooftops, disrupt the natural evaporation and soil absorption of rainfall. Runoff from hard surfaces causes flooding locally and accumulates greases, salts, fertilizers, and pesticides that can kill fish and damage shellfish beds and aquatic plants.

In Connecticut’s older cities like Bridgeport, New Haven and Hartford, stormwater and sewer systems are often combined during rain events, forcing sewage into the Sound. These discharges close a number of beaches and shellfish beds every year, a move necessary to protect human health but costly for the tourism and shellfishing industries.
Each rainfall causes flooding, sewage overflows and carries pollutants into the Sound. But runoff doesn’t have to be so destructive...

Green Infrastructure filters stormwater, eliminates sewage overflows and reduces flooding while saving money and enhancing communities.

The effects of stormwater runoff are harmful to our waterways and the creatures that call them home. (Photo by Bob Jacobs, CT DEEP.)

It uses the known benefits of natural systems to provide pollution reduction by trapping stormwater and allowing it to be filtered and absorbed by soil and plants. Techniques include installing rain gardens, rain barrels, permeable pavement, green roofs and disconnecting downspouts.

Cities across the US, including Philadelphia and NYC, have embraced green infrastructure as part of their stormwater and sewage overflow reduction plans. While costs vary, implementation expenses can be lower or equal to traditional infrastructure approaches. Additional benefits make it even more attractive: green vegetation can increase property values and make the community more aesthetically pleasing.

Data shows green infrastructure can effectively reduce stormwater runoff, filter out pollutants, save cities money and create new job sectors. It’s time for Connecticut to take action!

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