Denham Springs to hold “green stormwater” workshop

When rain falls on our roofs, streets and parking lots in cities and their suburbs, the water cannot soak into the ground as it should. Stormwater runoff occurs when rain flows over these hard surfaces and empties into sewers, canals, streams, and rivers.
rainAs anyone in southeast Louisiana who flooded in August 2016 knows firsthand, stormwater runoff collects pollutants, nutrients, sediment and pathogens as it flows into the storm sewer system – often flooding, damaging and polluting structures along the way. The runoff is discharged to local waterways without treatment.
Historically, municipalities have managed their stormwater by utilizing “gray” infrastructure practices made up of gutters, basins, and pipes that transport stormwater quickly to local streams, rivers, and lakes – sometimes too quickly. During extreme rain events such as occurred in August, the drainage infrastructure and bodies of water often cannot handle the immense volume of rain and simultaneous runoff, resulting in water backing up and widespread flooding.
Additionally, such rain events strain aging stormwater infrastructure which many municipalities struggle to maintain.
Due to lack of information, resources and funding, there often has been little or no planning by communities on how to abate runoff and thereby reduce this flooding and pollution.
Community solutions for voluntary stormwater planning
On October 27, 2016, EPA announced a draft guide, toolkit, and technical assistance to communities to voluntarily promote and implement comprehensive, community-wide planning approaches to managing “green” stormwater before it enters “gray” infrastructure.
While single-purpose gray stormwater infrastructure—conventional piped drainage and water treatment systems—is designed to move urban stormwater away from the built environment, green infrastructure reduces and treats stormwater at its source.
Green infrastructure uses vegetation, soils, and other elements and practices to restore some of the natural processes required to manage water. It is an approach that protects, restores, or mimics the natural water cycle before cities lost so much of its green spaces.
At the city or parish scale, green infrastructure is a patchwork of natural areas which provide habitat, flood protection, cleaner air, and cleaner water. The people of the community also benefit from planting trees, providing additional greenspaces and wildlife habitats, and utilizing effective and attractive landscaping.
Green infrastructure is effective, economical, and enhances community safety and quality of life.
City to hold green stormwater workshop
The City of Denham Springs was awarded a technical grant by the EPA for the study of green stormwater management. Denham Springs Mayor Gerard Landry, city staff and local citizens, all of whom have been affected by recent floods are part of a team that will hold a workshop to gather and discuss goals, issues and opportunities to help the city with stormwater management concerns as identified by community residents and the city.
The workshop will be held in two sessions over two days, one evening and one daytime session, to allow all interested persons to attend. One workshop is Tuesday, June 27, 5:30-8pm, and the other is June 28, 8 am-4:30 pm. This workshop will not be a presentation but rather will solicit ideas and concerns from the people who have a desire to help the Denham Springs community recover by finding solutions that will both improve the city and help prevent future flooding.
Anyone available to help in this recovery effort, please R.S.V.P. to 225-667-8332 or email jclark@cityofdenhamsprings.com.
“The experience and knowledge of our residents are a true asset that we want to tap into,” said Denham Springs Mayor Gerard Landry. “Together we will learn more about green infrastructure elements that can be woven into a community, from small-scale elements integrated into city sites, to larger scale elements spanning wider areas.”
By Helen Turner