Using the Original Green Infrastructure to Solve Drainage Issues

Using the Original Green Infrastructure to Solve Drainage Issues

FEBRUARY 09, 2017

We’ve written about stream daylighting on the blog before and the benefits that can be seen from incorporating this method into a municipal stormwater management strategy. In the January/February 2017 issue of Stormwater magazine, my colleague Denise Cameron and I published an article about incorporating this and other fundamental green infrastructure concepts into a drainage management plan that has been very successful for one of our clients.

Lexington, MA is largely considered to be a suburb of Boston today, but the town has retained much of its rural character and agricultural charm from its days as a farming community. As in many communities, stream channels in Lexington provide a primary means of conveyance of stormwater. But the stream channels and open conveyances were becoming less effective as the town continued to grow and transition into a more suburban area with stricter environmental controls associated with working in natural resource areas.

The town sits at the headwaters of three major watersheds and owns over 1,000 acres of conservation land containing trails, meadows, pine groves, and wetlands. Cognizant of the need to protect these conservation areas, which provide an important habitat to plants and wildlife as well as recreational space for residents and visitors, the town knew it had to do something to enhance the management of its drainage system which would balance drainage and environmental needs.

As part of its strategy to manage stormwater more effectively, Lexington’s Department of Public Works collaborated with the town’s Conservation Division to find solutions that would balance the more traditional DPW approach of dredging and piped infrastructure with the less invasive methods the Conservation Division preferred. Working together, the two departments were able to fund and implement several projects that would both improve drainage and provide ecological benefits, striking a balance that helped the community protect its environment and the health and wellbeing of its residents.

These projects have been very successful in Lexington and provide useful examples for communities nationwide looking to address similar issues. One of these projects, in fact, has recently been acknowledged with an Engineering Excellence Award from the Massachusetts chapter of the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC). To read more about Lexington’s funding approach and the details on a couple of these projects, you can find the full article here. Denise or I would be happy to answer any questions—reach Denise at or me at


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