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Arid Green Infrastructure for Water Control and Conservation State of the Science and Research Needs for Arid/Semi-Arid Regions
Lee, J., C. Fisher, AND B. Schumacher. Arid Green Infrastructure for Water Control and Conservation State of the Science and Research Needs for Arid/Semi-Arid Regions. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, EPA/600/R-16/146, 2016.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) commissioned a literature review to identify the state-of-the science practices dealing with water control and conservation in arid and semi-arid regions, with emphasis on these regions in the United States. The search focused on stormwater control measures or practices that slow, capture, treat, infiltrate and/or store runoff at its source (i.e., green infrastructure). The material in Chapters 1 through 3 provides background to EPA’s current activities related to the application of green infrastructure practices in arid and semi-arid regions. An introduction to the topic of green infrastructure in arid and semi-arid regions is presented in Chapter 1, including definitions of terms used in this document; descriptions of green infrastructure practices applicable to arid and semi-arid regions, both in developed and developing countries; benefits of green infrastructure in arid and semi-arid regions; and unique aspects of green infrastructure in arid and semi-arid regions of the United States. Chapter 2 focuses on green infrastructure resources that have been developed by EPA at the program and regional office level. Policy initiatives and guidance to address drought and water sustainability through green infrastructure in arid and semi-arid regions of the United States that have been formulated at the state, regional and municipal/county levels, as well as by nongovernmental agencies and collaboratively, are presented in Chapter 3. Chapter 3 also includes federal actions related to green infrastructure that apply across the United States. Chapter 4 presents the results of the literature review, organized by practice. Based on the research needs identified in the literature, as well as topics identified by experts in a recent conference focused on developing a research agenda, areas of research for applying green infrastructure in arid and semi-arid regions that are relevant to EPA’s mission are presented in Chapter 5. Varying levels of detail on different practices are available in the literature, which is reflected in Chapters 4 and 5. Chapter 6 is a summary of the findings of the literature review.
Green infrastructure is an approach to managing wet weather flows using systems and practices that mimic natural processes. It is designed to manage stormwater as close to its source as possible and protect the quality of receiving waters. Although most green infrastructure practices were first developed in temperate climates, green infrastructure also can be a cost-effective approach to stormwater management and water conservation in arid and semi-arid regions, such as those found in the western and southwestern United States. Green infrastructure practices can be applied at the site, neighborhood and watershed scales. In addition to water management and conservation, implementing green infrastructure confers many social and economic benefits and can address issues of environmental justice.