In rural areas, water runoff from heavy rains and snowfall can carve out large swaths of land and wash away plant life. Erosion can be a seriously damaging phenomenon, and the power of storm water in urban areas is similarly dangerous; overflowing sewer systems can flood streets and buildings, creating hazardous driving conditions and millions in property damage. That's where storm water management comes in: it involves landscaping and designing systems to properly manage large volumes of water. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is dedicated to managing storm water with a green infrastructure, which involves using plants and soil in urban areas to control absorption and purify storm water.
The EPA's green infrastructure offers a wide range of benefits: By encouraging the growth of greenery in urban areas, the infrastructure helps lower the heat island effect produced by heat-absorbing pavement and metal, reduces sewer overflow by absorbing water, and simultaneously reduces the pollution of storm water as it passes through plants and soil. An increase in green coverage reduces overall runoff, and the plants improve air quality by absorbing carbon dioxide [source: EPA]. The EPA employs a number of techniques to build a green infrastructure. Plant boxes, small installations of dirt and greenery along the street, are among the most basic solutions. Some of its other green technologies, including green roofs that are entirely covered in plant life and permeable pavements, which allow water to flow down to the sediment layer, demonstrate the powerful potential of green storm water technology [source: EPA].