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Environment Matters Audio Podcast

Environment Matters
EPA Region 3
Topic: Green Streets Transform Downtown
Size: : 3,748k
Time: 04:00

Date: June 1, 2012

[City Traffic]

Lena Kim: A street that actually removes contamination, saves energy and collects water? Sound impossible? Not in the port town of Edmonston, Maryland.
[Opening music]

Hi, I’m Lena Kim, and in this edition of Environment Matters, we’ll hear how a community turned its flood-prone main street into an avenue of environmental and financial success.

Decatur Street in Edmonston,  may not be paved with gold, but as one of the country’s green streets, it’s providing its own rewards. With a variety of environment friendly features the towns main boulevard now smartly handles polluted storm water that had rushed unimpeded from hard surfaces into storm drains and out to the nearby Anacostia River, a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay. Last December, town leaders marked the one-year anniversary of the Edmonston Green Street project by highlighting changes that have helped reduce pollution, and increase economic development. Dominique Lueckenhoff, an associate director for EPA’s mid-Atlantic Water Protection Division, says that green streets make sense for many reasons.

Dominique Lueckenhoff: The Green Street in Edmonston, Maryland is a good example of why EPA is getting more involved in partnerships with local communities to support these design and implementation efforts. Green Streets and alleys can help local governments green their transportation network by managing stormwater runoff. In fact, 90-plus percent of the volume, in addition, significant reductions in pollutant loadings like sediments, nutrients, heavy metals. In addition to better managing stormwater, Green Streets can make communities more healthy, more beautiful. They calm traffic, making it safer for pedestrians. They also make streets more attractive for shoppers and bikers. In addition, they save energy, they reduce urban heat island effects, and they reduce the cost of repaving streets—providing greater property values.

Lena Kim: In Edmonston, there are more than 40 new native trees planted on town streets and thirteen retention ponds filled with native grasses and trees to filter storm water before it enters the Anacostia. There are sidewalks sloped to channel water to green areas; street lights powered by wind energy; porous bike lanes and crosswalks; solar panels and rain barrels at the Municipal Building and a host of other environmental improvements. More than 60 jobs were created, and filled by area residents as a result of the initiative, which was funded by the federal recovery act.
Dr. Jana Davis, associate executive director and chief scientist for the Chesapeake Bay Trust, says the work in Edmonston is a model for other communities.

Jana Davis: It was unique at its time, this sort of holistic approach. The Trust has a new partnership with EPA to support these kinds of green streets in other communities. Our support has taken the form of  a grant program through which we offer grants for both design and construction of these innovative kinds of projects, as well as technical assistance to help communities build and develop and think through these kinds of projects. Our goal here is to support cost-effective, innovative new approaches to solving stormwater and other community issues at the same time.

Lena Kim: As Edmonston says on its web site: “If our little working class town can accomplish a project like this, other municipalities – of any size – can and should do them too.”

For more information, visit the following website: water.epa.gov/infrastructure. And thanks for joining us on Environment Matters.

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