Office of Drain Commissioner

Storm Water Education: Green Infrastructure

Green infrastructure is a type of water management that protects, restores, and mimics the natural water cycle!

Rains Garden article for above picture

In the 1970’s landscape architects began to think about stormwater management differently. They started to place an emphasis on developing urban areas with a more conscious design and utalizing nature for infiltration. The terms Green Infrastrucure (referring to newer stuctures like rain gardens and bioswales) and Low Impact Developments (planning around exisiting natural features) didn’t come about until the 21st century.

  • Green Infrastructure is cost effective
  • Green Infrastructure basically mimics how the natural environment treats water, and includes  grassy swales, rain gardens, bioinfiltration areas, and green roofs.
  • Gray infrastructure is man-made structures build to manage water resouces like catch basin inlets, storm drain pipes, discharge structures, and culverts.

Benefits of Green Infrastructure

  • Health benefits - Green infrastructure can improve air quality and reduce the smog in a dense area. In general, having more plants means having more carbon sequestration, shade, and cleaner air. Cooler and cleaner air should reduce the risk of heat-related illnesses which have been on the rise. 
  • Reduced flooding is also a major benefit. Green infrastructure especially in at risk areas can reduce flooding risk and increase climate resiliency of a community. 
    • It is very pertinent that we have more areas of absorption to help deal with excess water during storms.
    • Green infrastructure plays a huge role in managing flooding, increasing absorption and reducing the speed water is travelling. When Green Infrastructure and LID’s are implemented, they greatly reduce the amount of water that needs to be transported by drains, while simultaneously slowing it down, letting it re-enter the water system, and not allowing it time to carry pollutants.

Examples of Green Infrastructure you could implement at your home:

  • Rain gardens
  • Butterfly gardens in swales
  • Cisterns
  • Rain barrels
  • Green Roofs
  • Establishing riparian zones and buffer strips around bodies of water
  • Permeable driveways

Check out some great local examples of Green Infastructure

Articles about Green Infrastructure

Contact Us

Jason Wiersma
Drain Commissioner

Zeña Vos
Chief Deputy Drain Commissioner


Physical Address
201 West Kalamazoo Avenue
Kalamazoo, MI 49007

Phone: 269-384-8117

Office Hours
8:00am - 4:00pm
Monday - Friday

Closed on Holidays