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Green Streets

Street View

Left: Landscaped areas and pervious surfaces capture runoff, reducing the quantity of pollutants flowing into local creeks. Right: Runoff and pollutants flow directly into local creeks via storm drains

In natural landscapes, most of the rainwater soaks into the soil. However, in our urban areas, paved surfaces such as driveways, sidewalks, roads, and streets prevent rain from soaking into the ground. As rainwater flows over these surfaces, it can pick up pollutants such as motor oil, metals, pesticides, and litter. It then carries these pollutants into storm drains which flow directly to local creeks and the San Francisco Bay, without any cleaning or filtering to remove pollutants.

Cities and towns in Santa Clara Valley are working together to create sustainable or green streets, buildings, and parking lots that mimic natural landscapes, by incorporating green stormwater features. These features allow rainwater flowing over buildings, streets, and parking lots to soak into the ground and be filtered by soil. This reduces the quantity of water and pollutants flowing into storm drains and local creeks.

Explore the graphic below to see how green stormwater features help our community.

 

Green Streets main art

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Pervious Surfaces

Pervious drivewayPervious surfaces let rain soak into the soil below. Pervious surfaces include:

  • Pervious concrete or porous asphalt material
  • Grid pavers with gaps filled with gravel or turf
  • Interlocking pavers made of pervious material
  • Solid interlocking pavers that have gaps between them

Pervious paving is ideal for crosswalks, sidewalks, plazas, driveways, parking spaces, street edges, and emergency vehicle access lanes. Pervious surfaces help:

  • Retain water in the soil
  • Reduce runoff and pollution to our creeks and Bay
  • May reduce the risk of flooding on your street

Find more information about installing pervious paving in your yard.

See public projects that use Green Streets improvements

 


Rain Gardens (Bioretention Areas)

Residential Rain Garden

Public Rain GardenBioretention areas or rain gardens are landscaped areas that use a special soil mix to remove pollutants from stormwater runoff. They are planted around buildings, in parking lots, curb extensions, park strips, traffic circles, along street edges, and in medians. Rain gardens help:

  • Retain water in the soil
  • Reduce runoff and pollution to our creeks and Bay
  • Attract beneficial wildlife
  • May reduce the risk of flooding on your street

Find more information about installing rain gardens in your yard.

No room for a rain garden? Divert downspouts to a vegetated area.

See public projects that use Green Streets improvements.

 


Green Roofs

Green Roof

Buildings roofs covered in soil and vegetation allow rainwater to soak in. Green roofs can:

  • Reduce heating and cooling costs
  • Provide recreational opportunities
  • Attract beneficial wildlife
  • Reduce runoff and pollution to our creeks and Bay

See public projects that use Green Streets improvements.

 


 

Rain Barrels and Cisterns

Rain Barrels and Cisterns

Rain Barrels and CisternsRain barrels or cisterns can be used to collect and store rainwater for use in landscape irrigation and toilet flushing. There are a variety of styles available to complement décor.

Rain barrels:

  • Can be relatively inexpensive; consider reusing or repurposing a discarded barrel
  • Are easy to connect to existing downspouts

Cisterns:

  • Are available with a much higher capacity than a standard rain barrel.
  • May be installed above or below ground.

Find more information on installing rain barrels.

See public projects that use Green Streets improvements.

 


 

Infiltration Trenches

Trench

Infiltration trenches are excavated trenches backfilled with gravel. They capture, store, and let stormwater runoff soak into the soil. They can be used along street edges, in alleys, and in parking lots. Infiltration trenches are:

  • Low-maintenanceTrench
  • Allow water to soak into the ground
  • Reduce runoff and pollution to our creeks and Bay
  • May reduce the risk of flooding on your street

 

See public projects that use Green Streets improvements.

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