Green Infrastructure

The City of Durham includes green infrastructure and green stormwater infrastructure practices throughout the City by incorporating them into larger city projects, through research projects and grants, partnerships with local organizations, and by working with other city departments.

What is Green Stormwater Infrastructure? Watch this short video to find out!

What is Green Stormwater Infrastructure?
Green Stormwater infrastructure is a type of stormwater management that tries to protect, restore, or mimic the natural water cycle. Green stormwater infrastructure combines elements of the natural environment and traditional stormwater drainage systems to improve water quality and restore ecosystems. Green stormwater infrastructure can refer to behaviors, practices, devices, as well as being a way to design stormwater systems. Green stormwater infrastructure can be promoted through regulations, including guidelines for landscaping that take advantage of ecological benefits provided by natural processes.

Duke Park Silva Cell Project
The Departments of Public Works, Parks and Recreation, and General Services are working together on a project to study a new type of green stormwater infrastructure device. This winter, two Silva Cell devices will be installed along Acadia Street at Duke Park in the Ellerbe Creek watershed. These modular devices are well-suited for urban areas with limited space for larger, traditional stormwater control measures. In a Silva Cell, stormwater is retained underground while trees and special filter media remove pollutants. North Carolina State University was awarded a grant from the Clean Water Management Trust Fund to study how well these devices work in Durham's clay soils. In addition to providing the tree with a source of water and nutrients their construction allows tree roots room to grow. The City worked closely with NCSU and the manufacturer (DeepRoot) to design a system that will fit into the park setting. Researchers from NCSU's Stormwater Engineering Group will monitor and study the devices to understand how they can be used elsewhere in the city. 

Project update | 1/10/2019: Contractors are working to replace sections of sidewalk that had to be removed for installation. Curb cuts are being installed which will direct stormwater into the tree box. Concrete

Project update | 12/19/2018: The Silva Cell devices have been installed! In early January, the contractor will replace the sidewalk and plant the trees. In the meantime, grass seed and straw have been put on top of the disturbed area to reduce soil erosion. 


Letting it Grow!
Since 2007 the Department of Public Works, Division of Stormwater and GIS Services has been engaged in ongoing watershed management planning efforts to identify water quality issues across the city and to characterize the health of each watershed. Reports and detailed information about our watershed plans can be found on the sidebar of this page. As part of each watershed plan, Public Works works with other City departments to examine ways to improve stream-side areas on City-owned property. Through these collaborative relationships with other City departments, specific recommendations are developed that will help to improve the health of our City's streams and stream buffers (the area around a stream).
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Tree Care 101 Workshops
Public Works has been actively engaged in Trees Across Durham since it's inception in 2014. Trees Across Durham is a broad-based partnership dedicated to making Durham a healthier and greener community now and in the future through the planting and protection of trees, the education of tree care-takers and the general public about how to maintain healthy trees, and the measurement and communication of the benefits trees provide to our environment and community.
In cooperation with Trees Across Durham, Department of General Services - Urban Forestry Division, and Keep Durham Beautiful, Public Works helps host an annual Tree Care 101 Workshop. Each workshop is held along the banks of a stream restoration project within one of our City parks. At these fun and engaging events, the public is invited to spend time learning about the critical benefits that native trees and plants provide for our streams, stream buffers, and water quality. Participants have the opportunity to learn hand's-on techniques about tree pruning, planting, and general tree care directly from Alex Johnson, the Urban Forestry Manager and certified arborist. Healthy streams = clean water!