Assemblywoman Connie Wagner is my new hero

Some diary rescue tonight. This by engineer carolh interested me. I’ll pull out one quote: “Dinosaurs are extinct for a reason.  They couldn’t adapt to a changing world. We need to be smarter than that.” She’ll tell you why and how. Promoted by Rosi.

This story just absolutely warmed my geeky, stormwater engineer’s heart this morning.  I have felt like a lone voice in the wilderness for a long time on this issue. But now we have a voice in Trenton on my favorite issue.

Assemblywoman Connie Wagner is sponsoring a new bill regarding Green Infrastructure. Green infrastruture related to construction is also known as Low Impact Design- (LID – which is what us engineers have been calling it for years) Wagner feels we need to turn to these new techniques to reduce flooding.  Amen.

We engineers actually call these “non-structural” techniques which makes them sound less effective than pipes and concrete somehow, but they are the future.  Our engineer lack of penchant for catchy names has been dogging us for a while. Which may be why we needed help from the architecture community to get the word out.

Thankfully, folks can grasp the concept of a green roof or a rain garden.  Sounds a lot prettier than LID, dontcha think?

Sadly, The Record makes no mention that the NJDEP has been trying for years to no avail to get folks to use these techniques. The STATE is ahead of the municipalities in this regard.  For example, Wayne has OUTLAWED pervious driveway and won’t allow pervious concrete sidewalk and makes every effort to INCREASE impervious surface. They are not the only municipality to enact backward laws that hurt their residents – but they ARE the poster child for flooding and I firmly believe NOT using LID is why.  We need to support the NJDEP in their efforts to increase LID in ALL engineering projects – not just roofs. They know what to do.  Here is the NJDEP manual on exactly how to do it.  

The article also gives the mistaken impression that LID techniques always cost more upfront than conventional techniques. That is not true. They can cost LESS. Less concete, less pipes, less hardware, more plants. It is cost effective and better for the environment. A total win/win.

My dearest wish for 2013 is for my next LID design sanctioned by the NJDEP to NOT be thrown back in my face because an ancient municipal engineer who doesn’t understand LID wants me to UNDESIGN it and go back to the ancient methods that we know contribute to flooding, but make him feel like he knows whats going on.  

Dinosaurs are extinct for a reason.  They couldn’t adapt to a changing world. We need to be smarter than that.

I also think we need to offer free classes to local contractors in use of these new techniques.  It is not that they don’t want to do the new techniques, they are just comfortable with the old ways passed down from father to son.  It is these small jobs that can make a huge difference. If we arm these small companies who do one house at a time or one small commercial site at time we can make an incredible difference.  When I went to a lecture about how to design for ADA laws, and the contractor who just so happened to get the contract in the town I was working for ALSO was there, I cannot tell you how incredibly smoothly and successfully the job went because the contractor was trained through a government sponsored free class.  

We need an army of trained small local contractors who understand these techniques. No job is too small for these techniques.  

Anyway, that is my expert opinion on the matter. Any questions on this topic – please post them…

Comments (2)

  1. carolh (Post author)

    NJ is overrun with landscaping companies, and the folks who love to hire them.  These companies should ALSO be a major target for any LID Green Infrastructure classes and programs….

    Here is a link to the guy who first opened my eyes to LID  – a pioneer in the field – Larry Coffman http://www.lowimpactdevelopmen

  2. carolh (Post author)

    about Green Building in NJ. This film should be required viewing for all state legislators, and anyone appointed to a planning or zoning board in the state.  It beautifully shows exactly what Green Building really is here in NJ.


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