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Green Infrastructure Handled Heavy Rainfall Better in Local Study

By Maryland Today Staff

An area of Clarksburg, Md., replete with green infrastructure like rain gardens, dry detention ponds and sand filters handled increased rainfall more effectively than one with traditional stormwater infrastructure, University of Maryland researchers found.

Both systems, however, failed to successfully manage stormwater from heavier rainfalls, according to the study published this month in the Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management.

“That’s concerning partly because we know that with climate change, these more intense events are going to become more common,” said Mitchell Pavao-Zuckerman, assistant professor of environmental science and technology. “This points to the need to plan for these more intense weather events in stormwater management infrastructure.”

Pavao Zuckerman and graduate student Emma Giese used data available from U.S. Geological Survey for two watersheds in a growing suburban Montgomery County. One takes a traditional stormwater management approach, with large retention ponds, while the other uses smaller-scale green infrastructure.

“What we design now is in place for 20 or 30 years, so we should design it with future climate conditions in mind as opposed to what the past rain has looked like,” Pavao-Zuckerman said. “This work puts emphasis on what’s happening in local upland spaces that has immediate implications for the people who are living in these watersheds for future flood mitigation, but connects this to the broader issues of how increased runoff links to the health of the Chesapeake Bay.”

Read more from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources here.

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