Green Infrastructure incorporates the environment with constructed systems that mimic natural processes in an integrated network to benefit nature and society. The term green infrastructure most often refers a cost-effective, resilient approach to managing wet weather impacts using techniques such as low impact development (LID) approaches. However, the concepts and principles of green infrastructure span the scale of landscape-level watershed-based management planning down to site-specific applications of LID such as bioswales or permeable pavement.
Living shorelines are a green infrastructure shoreline management approach using nature-based erosion control techniques. Living shorelines are not a new concept, though they are new to Connecticut and the Northeast. As much of the State’s shoreline is armored with hardened structures, there is a growing interest in preserving the natural elements of the shore while also providing protection from erosion.
This interest can be found even within state government; after significant storms struck Connecticut, the CT Legislature passed Public Act (12-101) (2012): An Act Concerning the Coastal Management Act and Shoreline Flood Erosion Control Structures. This Act calls for consideration of alternatives to hard shoreline armament, like living shorelines. With this specific law in place, there is an urgency to fully understand the science and policy issues surrounding living shoreline deployment in Connecticut. CIRCA is actively working in Connecticut and regionally to provide the necessary information to successfully implement living shorelines where appropriate, across the state.
Living shorelines can be an excellent alternative to hard structures at the coast for a variety of reasons. Importantly, hard structures (e.g. bulkheads, revetments, seawalls, etc.) are often damaging to a coastline. These types of structures can increase erosion at the shore, inhibit natural coastal processes, and destroy natural habitat for fish, animals, and plants. Where hard structures ‘fail,’ living shorelines succeed. Living shorelines mimic natural settings and have many positive co-benefits to erosion control, including but not limited to: habitat creation, water quality enhancement, and maintaining natural coastal processes.
CIRCA’s role with Green Infrastructure and Living Shorelines
CIRCA’s research projects are intended to better understand the applications of green infrastructure and living shorelines specifically as an erosion control technique in the State. Ongoing research is addressing what to site, where to site, or how to site living shorelines approaches in Connecticut. CIRCA is actively working to advance the general understanding of living shorelines through review and assessment of technical approaches, and refining design through post-construction monitoring. As living shorelines are a relatively new erosion control method in the State and region, CIRCA will work to increase public awareness in Connecticut and with regional partners.
Overview of Projects
The attached list of projects includes all Green Infrastructure and Living Shorelines Projects UCONN CIRCA has participated in or funded.