Processing Magazine

Pennsylvania city reaps benefits from green infrastructure project

March 6, 2014

<photocredit>Rain barrel (Cornelia Pithart/iStockphoto/Thinkstock)</photocredit>

Utilizing green infrastructure can provide a number of environmental and economic benefits and can prove to be a cost-effective solution to deal with stormwater, according to a report released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The agency highlighted the work done by the city of Lancaster, Pa., in a case study it recently published online. Since 2011 the city has been implementing a program that prevents rain from coming into contact with pollution. Through this, Lancaster has managed to vastly improve quality of life for the local community, while the program has also resulted in annual savings of more than $660,000 in wastewater pumping and treatment costs. In addition, the city's green infrastructure plan will reduce gray infrastructure capital costs by $120 million and will provide an extra $2.8 million in energy, air quality and climate benefits each year, EPA regional administrator Shawn Garvin said. Further savings arising from the additional environmental, social and economic benefits could be made but these were not calculated in the plan.

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By comparison, the costs of implementing a green infrastructure program appear to be modest. The EPA report said that U.S. cities have to cover costs ranging from $51.6 million, if these projects are integrated into already planned improvement schemes, to $94.5 million, if green infrastructure is implemented as a stand-alone project. The EPA encouraged communities and city and state agencies across the United States to consider implementing green infrastructure projects.