A Congressman Supports Infiltration: of Stormwater, that is…

Congressman Joe Courtney (center) discusses a pervious concrete paver plaza with CLEAR’s Mike Dietz (left) and Dave Dickson (right).

On Tuesday April 14th, Representative Joe Courtney of Connecticut’s Second District stopped by UConn for a brief tour of low impact development (LID), or green infrastructure (GI), stormwater practices on campus.   The Congressman and his aide Cutter Oliver were doing some fact finding related to a bill introduced to the House last year, the Innovative Stormwater Infrastructure Act of 2013.  The bill would direct the Environmental Protection Agency to designate 3-5 regional Centers of Excellence focused on innovative stormwater management, defined as “…any stormwater management technique that: (1) uses natural systems or engineered systems that mimic natural processes to infiltrate, evapotranspire, or capture stormwater; and (2) preserves, enhances, or mimics natural hydrology to protect or restore water quality.”  In other words, GI practices.

Conveniently for Congressman Courtney, a living laboratory and demonstration site has sprung up right in his own district in the form of the UConn campus.   Led by CLEAR’s Dr. Mike Dietz, a leading stormwater expert in the state and in the region, Rep. Courtney and Mr. Oliver took a 45-minute tour that included 2 green roofs, 4 large “bioretention” basins, several rain gardens, two pervious asphalt parking lots and acres of pervious block paver plazas.  All of these practices are designed to take runoff from paved surfaces and roofs in the very dense area of central campus and get it back into the ground, thus avoiding the flooding, erosion, and water pollution that stormwater runoff can cause.

Folks who want to go on their own tour can do a much more complete circuit around campus — online — using CLEAR’s new UConn Green Infrastructure Virtual Tour, created by media master Dave Dickson.

With Mike Dietz looking on, Joe Courtney gets up close to check out the difference between pervious asphalt and the regular variety.

It was a great tour, with good questions, apparently satisfactory answers, and lots of conversation.  Our CLEAR triad (Mike, Dave Dickson and myself) came away very much impressed by Congressman Courtney and his interest in this topic, as well as his easygoing nature and obvious relish for championing the needs of his District and the state.  We hope that he came away impressed as well.