How to Choose the Best Stormwater Management System

Posted by Ecogardens


Stormwater management is a pressing need in today’s built environments, but it’s important to choose the right one for maximum effect. Here’s how to get started.

We’re just going to come right out and say it: stormwater sucks.

In an unmanaged urban context, at least, it can prove very damaging indeed.

“Increasing development and urbanization of our lands has led to changes in the natural environment that include increases in flooding, degradation of water quality, erosion, and sedimentation of our waterways,” says the University of Virginia’s Facilities Management Department.

Why is this happening? Because our heavily paved-over cities have cut off many of the avenues from sky to water table. Time was, when it rained or snowed, that water found its way to the closest stream or river pretty quickly, or else filtered through soil and other organic substances and joined the aquifer (the saturated area beneath the water table).

Now, that’s no longer possible in urban areas – or at least far more difficult.

Instead, water sheets off city surfaces – brick, stone, cement, asphalt – and eventually into waterways, but only after eroding the environment, spreading disease from sewers, and picking up massive chemicals loads from dirty city surfaces.

Good times.

Kidding. Terrible times. That’s where a good stormwater management system comes in.

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Topics: Stormwater Management

How Do Blue Roofs Help the Environment?

Posted by Ecogardens


Though they’re not the best choice for all rooftops, blue roofs do offer major environmental opportunity of which we should avail ourselves. 

Question: What wears a dirty blue cape, visits Chicago more than a hundred times per year, and doesn’t give a fig about combined sewer overflows?

If you said Captain Stormwater, you are correct. The prize, well – how about being really bummed out? You know, because of the disease and toxins that pour into our streets, the urban runoff that poisons wildlife, or the overloaded city infrastructure that just can’t keep up with the amount of water sheeting off impermeable surfaces every day?

Told you, it’s a bummer.

That’s not to say we can’t do anything about it. Green roofs help solve many of these problems, transforming barren concrete and cement rooftops into vibrant oases that absorb and filter stormwater, lessening its load considerably.

Green roofs represent a significant upfront cost outlay, though, and some people aren’t willing to wait for the ROI that accrues over time. In that case, a blue roof might just do the trick. Let’s tackle what that is, why it’s beneficial, whether it’s the best solution for your rooftop, and what we can expect from blue roofs in future.

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Topics: Stormwater Management

How to Use Stormwater Management Best Practices

Posted by Ecogardens


Stormwater management is a critical need in our cities and rural areas today, but to make our methods truly effective, we need to understand best practices.

To you, a sudden rainstorm is a nuisance. Your husband has the car today, so you’re walking to the L. You forgot your umbrella. Your presentation is getting wet.


Yet the billions of gallons that rain and snow down on cities like Chicago every year are far more than a personal inconvenience. They take a major toll, overrunning our sewers, sending pollution and disease into waterways, and ruining both metropolitan and rural areas.

The problem is, we tend to think of “saving the environment” as pertaining to the wilds, or at least to wetlands and parks – both inside and outside the city.

In truth, the urban environment is important as well. It’s where humans live (duh), and if we don’t take careful steps to make cities healthy, we’re hurting not only the world, but ourselves.

So how does stormwater come into the picture? Today, we’ll examine exactly what stormwater is and what we can do to manage it more effectively using long-term solutions rather than temporary measures.

In other words, using stormwater management best practices.

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Topics: Stormwater Management

Are You Missing Out on the Benefits of Green Stormwater Infrastructure?

Posted by Ecogardens


Green stormwater infrastructure is a growing need in our world, as cities bloom and rural areas feel their effects. Are you missing out on its benefits?

Stormwater is a huge problem.

When we say huge, we don’t just mean “large” or “sizeable” or any other half-measure word that politicians use.

We mean huge.

It’s a problem to which we must start paying attention, but we have to do it in the right ways … and that means going green.

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Topics: Stormwater Management

The Definition Of Stormwater And What It Means For You

Posted by Ecogardens


Stormwater is liquid that results from rain, snow and other forms of precipitation. In an urban environment, we typically use the term “stormwater” in the context of surface water that aggregates on impermeable surfaces. 


It just sounds kind of scary, right?

I mean, you’ve heard the term. You know it’s a problem. You understand that addressing it is of critical importance.

But unless you work in landscaping or an environmental niche, you may not understand what to do about it. As a homeowner, building manager, investor or institution, you probably feel unsure what your responsibility to the environment should take – and that’s okay.

Let’s talk about the definition of stormwater and what it means for you today.

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Topics: Stormwater Management

How to Develop a Rural Stormwater Management Plan

Posted by Ecogardens


Rural stormwater management is a critical – and often under-addressed – need in our world today. Anywhere humans live, we need a smart plan for purifying water and funneling it where it needs to go. 

We should definitely celebrate the fact that stormwater management has become a better-known concept in cities across America.

* pause for champagne and party crackers *

However, the focus on cities has had one unintended side effect: In the effort to respond to urban needs, many people have forgotten the importance of rural stormwater management.

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Topics: Stormwater Management

What You Need to Know About Combined Sewer Overflows

Posted by Ecogardens


Combined sewer overflow events plague many cities that rely on old infrastructure to manage both sanitation and surface runoff. It’s time we made a change.

If you’re like most, avoiding the contents of a toilet is pretty high on your list.

It might disgust you, therefore, to discover that the sewers in many large cities regularly back up and flow into the streets.

While this fact is certainly ripe for some bathroom humor, it’s actually a very serious problem. When heavy rains lead to an abundance of stormwater, some sewers can’t keep up. Current city planning incorporates stormwater management practices to prevent this from happening, but our older urban spaces have yet to hop on board.

it’s time we change that.

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Topics: Stormwater Management

How to Use Urban Ecological Design to Help Cities Prosper

Posted by Ecogardens


Urban ecological design is a critical discipline if we want to bridge the divide between city infrastructure and the natural world.

So, exactly what is urban ecological design, you’re wondering? Well, that starts with asking: What’s wrong with our cities in the first place?

You don’t need to read City Mouse, Country Mouse to understand the divide between our sparsely populated rural places and our bustling urban spaces, complete with all the conveniences of modern times.

(Although if you haven’t read that book, you should – whether or not you have children. It’s a classic, mostly because, mice with clothes.)

The problem is that too many people see cities as centers of civilization, exclusive of the environment. On the other hand, nature is an idyllic escape that simply can’t exist inside metropolitan boundaries.

Frankly, we don’t care for that way of thinking. The only way we’ll heal the environment and transform cities into healthy places to live is to meld the two. That’s where urban ecological design comes in.

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Topics: Urban Ecology, Stormwater Management

What Is Green Infrastructure and What Does It Mean for You?

Posted by Ecogardens


Understanding green infrastructure is the first step in leveraging its awesome power toward a better future

Sometimes remakes just aren’t as good.

Seriously, ask anyone who’s ever loved a movie from the 80s if the new version is better. (Spoiler alert: They’ll say no.)

The same goes for nature’s ability to handle the vast gallons of stormwater that pour down from the sky during every shower and blizzard – versus our ability to manage that water on our own.

That’s where green infrastructure comes in. 

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Topics: Stormwater Management, Green Infrastructure

What Is Stormwater Management and How Can You Help?

Posted by Ecogardens


While we don’t often stop to think about the magnitude of each rainfall and snowfall, the environment still has to deal with the massive quantities of runoff that result. So what is stormwater management, and why does it matter?

As the US Geological Survey points out, runoff from stormwater is an extremely important part of the world’s ecosystem. It carries water downhill to fill lakes and rivers, wears away at stone and dirt, forms climates and habitats in its wake.

That’s during natural processes, though. In cities, these mechanisms aren’t nearly so healthy. Rainwater pounds away at rooftops, sidewalks, streets and other impermeable surfaces, but can’t get through. It heads to sewers instead, picking up pollution and disease along the way.

Obviously, we need a way to manage all that runoff. If you’re asking “Well, what is stormwater management?” then you’re in the right place. Let’s talk about that.

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Topics: Stormwater Management