Green Infrastructure

What is it and why is it important?

Green infrastructure is a term used for a wide variety of practices at different scales to manage and treat stormwater. Local green infrastructure systems are designed to establish or mimic natural processes in order to slow down and capture stormwater before it has a chance to reach sewers or areas prone to flooding downstream as runoff. Some examples of green infrastructure are porous pavement, rain gardens and bioswales, constructed wetlands, and rain barrels.

In the City of Albany, green infrastructure specifically helps to reduce flooding and reduce the frequency and intensity of combined sewer overflows.

Benefits of Green Infrastructure

Water Quantity and Quality

One main goal of green infrastructure in Albany is to capture and absorb or retain stormwater. Water quality is improved when captured stormwater is filtered through a natural system. Also, less stormwater flowing to catch basins and combined sewer pipes translates to lower volumes of stormwater and sewage released into the Hudson River during combined sewer overflows. Green infrastructure can reduce the impact of stormwater on water quality in the Hudson River and other local water bodies.

Flooding Mitigation

Conventional stormwater infrastructure in Albany works to take water as quickly as possible away from an area, using catch basins and pipe systems and the grade on the land. This leads to concentrated flows and flooding at lower elevations and main line pipes. Green infrastructure works to soak in and soak up stormwater to alleviate areas prone to flooding by sending less water downstream.

Air Quality

Green infrastructure that uses vegetation, like rain gardens and green roofs, helps to remove pollutants and particulate matter from the air. This is especially important in urban environments.

Types of Green Infrastructure

Below are links to different types of green infrastructure, including methods the Water Department is implementing in Albany, as described by the U.S. EPA.

For Your Home

In the City

Where in Albany?

Albany Water Department Projects

Ramsey Place Green Infrastructure Project - This project completed stormwater sewer separation on Ramsey Place. Street trees, porous pavement, and underground storage space will work to capture stormwater, slow it down, soak it in and soak it up. The project is expected to provide approximately 150,000 gallons of separated storm sewer storage. View the Frequently Asked Questions for more details on the project.  View a presentation from a community meeting on February 6, 2019. 

View a drone flyover of the completed project.

Quail Street Green Infrastructure Project - The project is a demonstration project and collects the first three inches of rainfall in separated storm sewers and porous pavement in the maintenance areas between sidewalks and curbs. This runoff is directed to bio-retention basins below grade and returned to the combined sewer system once the flow in the sewer subsides.

Ryckman Alley Overflow Abatement and Flood Mitigation Project – Stormwater runoff will now be collected in existing separated storm sewer pipes and conveyed to the new created wetland in Woodlawn Park. See more at: Ryckman Alley Overflow Abatement and Flood Mitigation

North Swan Street Green Infrastructure Project – This project completed storm sewer separation, sanitary sewer replacement, street paving and sidewalk replacement in conjunction with the construction of bioswales to slow down and soak up stormwater.

Mariette Place Green Infrastructure Project – Bioswales and separated storm sewer were constructed to eliminate discharge to the combined sewer system.  

Elberon Place Flood Mitigation and CSO Abatement Project – New stormwater catch basins and pipe have been installed to convey rainwater separate from the large diameter combined sewer pipe under Elberon Place. See more at: Elberon Place CSO Abatement and Flood Mitigation Project

Mereline (Delso) Sewer Separation Project - This project will repave a portion of Mereline, Simpson, Albion, Arcadia, and Mapleridge Ave with porous asphalt and install a separated stormwater sewer. This will redirect runoff out of the combined sewer and into the separated stormwater system. Current construction will continue through mid-November 2019, with final paving to be completed in Spring 2020. 

Additional Information

United States Environmental Protection Agency
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
Stormwater Coalition of Albany County