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Digging into soil data helps inform green infrastructure design

URBANA, Ill. – Managing stormwater has become more challenging as urban development increases, storms get bigger and sewer systems can’t keep up. Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant funded a University of Illinois project to help communities add green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) to their strategies to prevent local flooding.

The research and outreach team set out to incorporate information about local soils as well as other factors in planning and designing GSI sites.

The team focused their efforts in the Calumet region, which encompasses the southeast side of Chicago along with nearby suburbs. This flat, low-lying area has historically been particularly prone to flooding. Add to that, long-standing, traditional infrastructure is aging and is frequently in need of repair or upgrading. Many communities in the Calumet region, as well as elsewhere, do not have the financial resources to update their sewer systems, which at best, may still be insufficient.

Green stormwater infrastructure offers a nature-based way to enhance traditional or “grey” infrastructure. The idea of GSI is to increase opportunities for rainfall to be absorbed where it lands, whether into a well-placed rain garden or even onto permeable pavement, instead of running off parking lots, streets, and sidewalks and into sewer systems, potentially overwhelming them.

Read more of the student finding at Illinois Indiana Sea Grant

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