The EPA is working on developing a set of online tools related to the promotion and development of Green Infrastructure and Low Impact Development, which they are calling the Green Infrastructure Toolkit. The Beta Tool Kit has been rolled out and can be seen here: Green Infrastructure Modeling Toolkit

The beta toolkit is being refined and to do this the EPA has chosen 5 US cities to test these tools to help improve and streamline them before they are opened up to communities everywhere. This is a very exciting opportunity for our community to continue to show the world how to use water sustainably. The average person in the USA uses between 80-100 gallons of water per day. In Santa Fe we are really conscious of the precious nature of water and through dedication and hard work we each use about 52.5 gallons per day. This is a really excellent way to protect our water here in the arid high desert but there is more we can do.

The next step is going to be the development of our city’s green infrastructure. Green infrastructure is essentially the management of stormwater that works to manage stormwater by mimicking the way water behaves in nature while simultaneously providing social, environmental and economic benefits to the community as well. The techniques used towards this end are also referred to as Low Impact Development.  Check out the EPA’s green infrastructure website for more information.

The Green Infrastructure Modeling Toolkit is a set of five tools that are intended to be used by community planners, landscape architects and engineers to develop successful green infrastructure. They can all be accessed at the EPA’s Infrastructure Modeling Toolkit Website. The five individual tools are as follows:

Green Infrastructure Wizard (GIWiz), ‘GIWiz is an interactive web application that provides users with customized reports containing EPA tools and resources with direct links and overview information’.

Watershed Management Optimization Support Tool (WMOST), ‘WMOST is a software application designed to facilitate integrated water resources management across wet and dry climate regions. It allows water resources managers and planners to screen a wide range of practices across their watershed or jurisdiction for cost-effectiveness and environmental and economic sustainability. WMOST allows users to select up to fifteen stormwater management practices, including traditional grey infrastructure, green infrastructure, and other low impact development practices’.

Visualizing Ecosystems for Land Management Assessment (VELMA), ‘VELMA is a computer software model that regional planners and land managers can use to quantify the effectiveness of natural and engineered green infrastructure management practices for reducing nonpoint sources of nutrients and contaminants in streams, estuaries, and groundwater. These practices include riparian buffers, cover crops, and constructed wetlands’.

Storm Water Management Model (SWMM), ‘SWMM is a software application that is used widely throughout the world for large-scale planning, analysis, and design related to stormwater runoff, combined and sanitary sewers, and other drainage systems in urban areas—although there are many applications for drainage systems in non-urban areas as well. It allows users to represent combinations of green infrastructure practices to determine their effectiveness in managing runoff. SWMM was developed to help support local, state, and national stormwater management objectives to reduce runoff through infiltration and retention’.

National Stormwater Calculator (SWC), ‘SWC is a desktop application that estimates the annual amount of stormwater runoff from a specific location in the United States (including Puerto Rico), based on local soil conditions, land cover, and historic rainfall records. It is used to inform site developers on how well they can meet a desired stormwater retention target with and without the use of green infrastructure. It also allows users to consider how runoff may vary based both on historical weather and potential future climate. SWC is a resource for all Rainwater Management Credits in LEED by the U.S. Green Building Council for all project types in all rating systems’.

Greenworks, Zidell Green Infrastructure / Portland, Oregon


As you can see these tools have been developed to be used at the community for urban scale green infrastructure projects but don’t feel like you are left out. Green infrastructure and low impact development can take place at any scale and in any location. At San Isidro Permaculture we specialize in the development of passive water harvesting landscapes that are designed using the principles of green infrastructure and low impact development. We design landscapes to become sponges that capture and hold storm water.Capturing the water in this manner has the same benefits of community scale green infrastructure.  It reduces the stormwater load in the urban environment reducing the potential for flooding. The reduction in the amount of storm water reduces the amount of pollution that reach our natural water bodies and also reduces erosion. Capturing and infiltrating storm water on site allows for the creation of native habitat and can lead to the recharge of our precious aquifers. Home scale green infrastructure is an amazing way to beautify your landscape and to increase your beneficial impact on the natural world!


Brad Lancaster, Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond