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Creating Meanders – How Green Infrastructure Works

‘Green Infrastructure’ is a broad term for features that rely on natural processes such as soil, water, and plants to provide ecosystem services such as a clean water, clean air, wildlife habitat, and temperature regulation. The two Green Infrastructure (GI) projects are taking urban areas and rebuilding them to imitate the drainage and filtration that happens in nature; by preserving natural systems and using engineered systems, more natural forms of filtration and absorption are added back to the largely impervious urban landscape. GI also contributes to a reduction in peak flows, flooding, inflow and infiltration to the sewer infrastructure (reducing the sewer exfiltration into creeks and lakes), water conservation, and provide habitat while creating attractive green spaces within the urban environment.

All of this is done by recreating natural pieces in an already built environment. In nature, creeks and rivers have a natural geometry. Recreating this natural geometry as much as possible gives the waters time to slow, remove their energy, drop pollutant loads, and connect better to the floodplain and riparian habitat. Riparian habitat, or buffers, act as a natural filter to draw out pollutants.

When planning Prescott Creeks two GI projects, we worked with the City of Prescott on locations and with Arizona Department of Environmental Quality on grant funding. Barnabas Kane and Associations served as the landscape designer and Fann Environmental did the big yellow machine work. During planning, one of Barnabas’ concerns was to maximize the space available to create meanders for the waters as they flow in to the basins. He also worked with Prescott Creeks to develop a planting and seed list of natives that would best filter and become sustainable with only a short period of irrigated support during the driest times of the year. Taking all of the conditions into consideration to make it as natural a space as possible will allow these areas to grow in to beautiful, flowing pieces that will provide attractive spaces.

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