Judith Enck, U.S. EPA Regional Administrator
Yesterday, March 14, 2013, was the Western New York Green Infrastructure Forum sponsored by the EPA and University at Buffalo
. I had the pleasure of going and hearing from a variety of speakers, learning about many different projects and efforts in our community, and was sent home with a couple of great case studies to research. Here were some of the key takeaway points that I walked away with yesterday:
- Green Infrastructure is about approaching storm water—keeping it out of our sewers and keeping sewage out of our waterways. This definition is kind of broad, but I thought it was helpful when this was discussed at the beginning of the forum to give a very general overview of a topic that was going to be talked about for the rest of the day.
- There are many green infrastructure methods, many of which are being utilized in our region already (permeable pavement, rain barrels, rain gardens, green roofs, etc.)
- Onondaga County and the Save the Rain Program are great case studies. One lesson from their team was that in thinking about green infrastructure projects from a community standpoint, the number one question that seems to come up is about maintenance. Make sure you plan for this question!
- EPA Regional Administrator, Judith Enck, made a great argument for the importance of green infrastructure by reminding us that it’s cheaper to prevent pollution than to clean it up!
Here is what one of our partner organizations, Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, had to say about the event in a news article on their website:
(Buffalo, N.Y. – March 14, 2013) Directors from Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper joined regional and state leaders to showcase efforts to advance green infrastructure in WNY at the Environmental Protection Agency and the University at Buffalo’s Green Infrastructure Forum.
“Riverkeeper is restoring natural water systems and implementing cutting edge techniques, including rain gardens, pervious pavement, and wide scale application of rain barrels to address a multitude of water quality problems” noted Jill Jedlicka, Executive Director, in her Rust to Blue presentation.
Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper’s Rust to Blue initiative is leveraging Western New York’s Blue Economy through the investment in the restoration and revitalization of our watershed. Restoration of the Buffalo River has delivered over $70 million dollars to this community and set the foundation for developments like Canalside.
“The health and integrity of our fresh water system reflects the health and well being of our community, notes Jedlicka.” We are standing at a pivotal moment in time where we can create jobs and promote innovation while restoring this community’s most important natural asset, fresh water.”
Jessie Fisher, Riverkeeper’s Director of Planning co-presented with the Buffalo Sewer Authority (BSA) on the public-private partnership that has allowed the BSA to secure resources to implement state of the art green infrastructure in pilot projects within the region.
“Through our partnership with the Buffalo Sewer Authority, we are not only implementing solutions that will improve water quality, but we are also improving aesthetics of our urban core communities with new rain gardens and habitat restoration,” Fisher noted in her presentation.
Green infrastructure and the potential of the Blue Economy is leveraging innovative economic development opportunities for our community. Water quality and restoration projects including the restoration of the Buffalo River, the Lake to Lake connection along the Niagara River Greenway, brownfield remediation, commercial navigation, regional sewer improvements, and eco-tourism combine to create over a billion dollars of investment in our local blue economy.
At Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz’s first “state of the county” address, he noted “his economic development strategy also would focus on creating a “blue economy” to leverage the region’s geographic location and natural water resources, committing to “smart growth and sustainability” through land-use planning, ensuring brownfield redevelopment and farmland protection, and making “conscientious investments” in infrastructure, the workforce and quality of life.“
For more information on Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper’s Green Infrastructure, please our website at bnriverkeeper.org/green-infrastructure and our Green Infrastructure Solutions report at bnriverkeeper.org/solutions report