City parks and gardens don’t just beautify neighborhoods. They also make them better equipped to deal with catastrophic floods.

That's why, in a letter published Aug. 30, Environment Texas Research & Policy Center called on the Lone Star State to commit to spending one-fifth of a proposed $793 million Flood Infrastructure Fund on green infrastructure. Currently, most storm management money still goes to “gray” projects like concrete pipes, levees and dams. Yet green infrastructure, which includes rain gardens and urban forests, can absorb up to 90 percent of rainwater, and cities such as Houston have found that these kinds of projects can help stop flooding in the first place.

“We’ve been fighting floods with pipes for so long it’s hard to imagine anything different,” said Environment Texas Research & Policy Center’s Clean Water Associate Anna Farrell-Sherman. “But you don’t go fishing with only one lure: We need to tackle this problem with every technique we’ve got.”

With the public input period for the program closed, it is now up to the state to decide the breakdown of the Flood Infrastructure Fund.

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Photo: Green infrastructure projects, like this stormwater management system in Illinois, lead to cleaner rivers and beaches by averting runoff pollution. Credit: DeepRoot vis Flickr, CC BY NC-ND 2.0.