Green stormwater systems pay off according to new report

BOISE—Stormwater managers in the Boise area are wise to invest in green stormwater systems because they are more cost-effective over the long haul than traditional methods and provide a myriad of benefits that traditional systems can’t.

That’s the gist from a new report commissioned by Idaho Rivers United and authored by Boise-based Conservation Economics Institute, “Green Stormwater Infrastructure Economics in the Boise Urban Area.” 

“As the Boise grows, millions of public and private dollars will be invested in managing stormwater to protect public safety and water quality,” said IRU Boise River Campaign Coordinator Liz Paul. “Our research shows that investing in green stormwater systems is better for the community, better for the environment and better for the bottom line.” 

Green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) uses natural processes that allow the earth and vegetation to capture contaminants from stormwater eliminating discharge of dirt, grease, bacteria, nutrients and other pollutants to the Boise River. The report details a variety of techniques appropriate for the Boise area.

Report author, economist Evan Hjerpe, spent more than a year studying GSI projects throughout the United States, as well as pilot projects around Boise and concluded that GSI “is as cost-effective as grey infrastructure at capturing stormwater” and “has higher rates of pollutant reduction.”

Green stormwater systems also achieve a number of additional benefits including neighborhood beautification, pedestrian safety, groundwater recharge and cleaner air.

“This report lays to rest the notion that green stormwater systems are an expensive frill,” Paul said. “They are a wise investment of public and private funds and a wise use of water.”

To learn more, join IRU and Conservation Economics Institute at Washington Group Plaza Nov. 19 at 11:30 a.m. when Hjerpe and Paul discuss the study’s findings at a Boise River Enhancement Network lunch forum.

  • Click here or on the cover image above to download the report.