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Green Infrastructure Planning in the Hudson Valley

Using Green Infrastructure to Manage Stormwater

Like many waterbodies in New York, those in the Hudson Valley are affected by various forms of pollution, including pollutants carried by stormwater runoff. Left untreated, runoff carries pollutants into lakes, rivers, and streams where people swim, fish, play, and draw drinking water. Stormwater that flows into sewer systems can overwhelm the sewer and cause a sewer overflow, sending untreated waste into nearby waterbodies. Stormwater can also intensify local flooding problems, contributing to runoff and erosion issues and causing property damage.

vegetated swale in a parking lot
The vegetated swale in the parking lot of Roeliff Jansen
Community Library in Hillsdale is an example of green
infrastructure, which can help capture and absorb stormwater.
Image courtesy of HVRC

Green infrastructure (GI) can help manage stormwater by using techniques such as rain gardens, green roofs, vegetated swales, bioretention areas, rain barrels, and pervious pavement to reduce runoff, water pollution, sewer overflows and flooding. Green infrastructure practices can be less expensive than building or expanding traditional stormwater and sewage treatment systems to handle runoff. They also have a number of secondary benefits not associated with traditional treatment methods, including aesthetic improvements, cleaner air, energy savings, urban cooling, and climate change mitigation.

Project Overview

In 2009, the Hudson Valley Regional Council (HVRC) received a $285,000 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA or Stimulus) grant from DEC to develop a green infrastructure planning program in the Hudson Valley region.

Currently, some communities in the HVRC region have stormwater-related problems such as sewer overflows, flooding, and phosphorus pollution. The intent of this project was to help address these problems by:

  1. helping local stakeholders -- including municipal leaders, local decision-makers, consultants, planners, property owners, design professionals, developers, and other people interested in stormwater management -- understand, plan for, implement, and maintain GI practices; and
  2. developing an expanded inventory of potential GI projects and sites in participating municipalities.

Building community support for GI practices, along with identifying potential GI sites and developing conceptual project plans, will allow implementation of GI practices designed to capture stormwater runoff to move forward more rapidly when funding becomes available.

Project Status

visualization of what a parking lot would look like with green infrastructure
The top half of the image above shows an existing parking lot in
Beacon, NY. The bottom half shows how the site could look with
GI practices installed, including a bioretention garden, pervious
pavement, and a tree planting. These photos are from the
"Beacon-Fishkill Green Infrastructure Concept Plans,"
available on HVRC's website.

HVRC finished work on this project in December, 2011. To develop the skills, understanding, and experience of regional stakeholders, HVRC developed green infrastructure training materials, held training sessions, and organized outreach meetings. HVRC also completed conceptual GI plans which focus on practices that could be used for runoff reduction, stormwater management, and water quality protection and restoration.

To support and promote the project in the HVRC region, HVRC held a series of public meetings, identifying and organizing stakeholders in each community, and providing training to local municipal staff, consultants and volunteers. They formed stakeholder committees in the communities of Kingston, Poughkeepsie, Hyde Park, Pawling, Newburgh, Beacon, Fishkill, Warwick, Greenwood Lake, and Yonkers to plan green infrastructure projects. Working with the stakeholder committees, HVRC identified more than 70 potential green infrastructure projects in these areas and drafted concept plans for each.

To identify potential green infrastructure projects in each community, HVRC used an inventory form to collect information about soil type, topography, location, vegetation, and impervious surfaces at each site. The project also included training for municipal officials on using LIDRA (Low Impact Development Rapid Assessment), a modeling tool that estimates runoff reductions from different combinations of green infrastructure techniques and helps identify the most cost effective projects.

HVRC also developed a Green Infrastructure Planning website to share educational and technical support materials. The website also includes training and outreach materials that were used by the project team to develop regional knowledge and support, along with links to other useful GI resources. A direct link to the Hudson Valley Region Green Infrastructure Planning website is in the "Links Leaving DEC's Website" section of the right-hand column of this page.

rain garden that was developed from one of this project's concept plans
A rain garden, which helps capture rooftop runoff at the Ulster
County Department of the Environment in Kingston, was based on
one of the GI concept plans created for this project. This photo is
from the "Kingston Green Infrastructure Concept Plans,"
available on HVRC's website.

Many of the conceptual plans developed with this funding have already been used in seeking grant funding for further planning and construction. Several GI projects have moved forward or have been implemented as a result of this project. Some specific examples are listed in the final progress report.

Reports containing the conceptual GI plans that were developed for each of the regions are available on the Green Infrastructure section of HVRC's website, or copies may be requested by contacting HVRC.

Final Progress Report

When each ARRA 604(b) project is complete, DEC requires a final report summarizing the entire project to be submitted. The report includes a description of the project's goals, work accomplished, and final project outcomes.

To view the final progress report for this project, click the following link:

Green Infrastructure Planning and Capacity Development - Final Report (PDF) (142 KB)

Regional Demographic Information

The seven-county HVRC planning region is located in the lower Hudson Valley and includes the counties of Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester. The seven counties encompass over 4,700 square miles and approximately 2.2 million residents.

Contact Information

HVRC

3 Washington Center, 2nd Floor, Newburgh, NY 12250
845-564-4075, ppomeroy@hvregionalcouncil.com, www.hudsonvalleyregionalcouncil.com