Healthy communities are built by healthy residents, and healthy residents need clean water! Protecting and conserving water is necessary for maintaining the health of people as well as the visual beauty of a community. “Green” communities often have higher property values while also enjoying lower costs due to water conservation. There are changes both small and large that municipalities can implement to improve local water quality and reduce overall water use.
Tips for Municipalities:
- Water Conservation and MS4 - About 1,000 municipal separate stormwater sewer systems (MS4) exist in Pennsylvania. Communities that have these must create plans for reducing pollution in order to gain the operating permits for these systems. Implementing green infrastructure practices, creating education and outreach programs, or considering stormwater fees are just some ways that municipal leaders can improve local water quality while also getting credit toward their MS4 permit. SAN partners can be a great resource for implementing these sustainable changes!
- Invest in Green Infrastructure - Green infrastructure is a blanket term used to describe infrastructure meant to manage stormwater in a sustainable manner. Green infrastructure includes small projects such as rain barrels and rain gardens, as well as large infrastructure projects like basin retrofits, permeable pavement, and bioswales. Each type of green infrastructure has its advantages and disadvantages, but almost all help to prevent flooding, keep water onsite and reduce the need to lawn care. Installing this infrastructure in public land not only improves water quality and reduces flooding, but it also creates a visually appealing and unique landscape. It is crucial for our water quality to preserve, protect, and maintain public land for native ecosystems and human health.
- Invest in Efficient Irrigation - A lot of public land is cared for through watering. This can include lawns of municipal buildings, public parks, and recreational facilities. Most have sprinklers that are set on a timer, which is convenient, but not the most water-efficient. These systems spray at a certain time despite undesirable or unnecessary watering conditions, such as windy days or when it’s raining. Consider investing in a rain sensor to prevent unnecessary watering. To go one step further, a municipality could invest in subsurface irrigation, which is irrigation that occurs at or below the surface. This reduces evaporation, which in turn reduces the amount of water needed without reducing benefit to the plants.
- Get Your Community Involved! - Outreach to community members is an important component to protecting and restoring local water quality. Make maintaining clean water a goal for the community and reach out to community members, schools, and local businesses to help contribute!
- Conduct a Water Audit for Municipal and Public Buildings - A water audit or water survey is a process in which an auditor analyses a building to determine its water usage, any potential problems with the water system, and any areas that could be improved. Although this involves an investment cost, identifying areas within the system that could be improved has the potential to save both water and money, not to mention prevent system failures in the future.
- Plan for Climate Resiliency - A vulnerability and impact assessment, investing in updating infrastructure, and forward-thinking policies can better prepare your community to bounce back from climate events such as flooding. Click here for tools.
Resources for Municipalities: