Tag: green infrastructure (page 1 of 2)

Financing Water Management in a Caribbean Setting  – A Case Study of Trinidad and Tobago

A Caribbean getaway is often on the wish list of summer plans. The warm tropical weather, accessibility to beaches, and lush rainforests beckon. But these very factors often lead to a myriad of challenges when it comes to water resource management on small islands. Increased flooding in Caribbean countries such as Trinidad and Tobago can be linked to development and behavioral practices that encourage erosion and the blocking of water channels. Continue reading

Green Infrastructure Programs at Local Governments– What’s in a Name?

Many local governments have been creating programs to improve water quality by addressing non-point sources of pollution. Over the years the approach itself has had different names. Terms such as “low impact development,” and “environmental site design” seem to have given way to the name “green infrastructure” (GI) lately. GI often takes the form of multiple efforts ranging from green roof installations on city hall, to encouraging rain garden installations in private front yards. Oftentimes though, there is an umbrella name for the program that covers all of these related efforts. In researching how cities and counties have financed these programs, I could not help but start a list of some of the creative names that have been devised.

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Striking the Balance: How Communities are Using Creative Financing to Support Green Infrastructure

My interest in Green Infrastructure (GI) sparked several years ago, when I worked as a college intern with the City of Greensboro, NC Stormwater Department. Back then, no one really talked about “green infrastructure”, but the city was invested in managing its stormwater.  As part of that experience, I was given my first look at stormwater management in practice as I tagged along with city staff to inspect Greensboro’s Stormwater Best Management Practices (BMPs) – features like constructed wetlands, forested stream buffers, and rain gardens, that are designed to remove pollutants from urban runoff.

This week I was reminded just how much things have changed since that first internship experience. For one, “green infrastructure” has emerged as the preferred term for these kinds of features, and has also grown as an accepted stormwater management practice among communities across the country. Even at the federal level, acceptance of GI is very clear. For example, the 2014 amendments to the Clean Water Act now include section 603(c)(5): “for measures to manage, reduce, treat, or recapture stormwater or subsurface drainage water;” language which the EPA interprets as including “green roofs, rain gardens, roadside plantings, porous pavement, and rainwater harvesting.” EPA’s recent Community Summit on Green Infrastructure in Cleveland, Ohio highlighted this shift and offered an unparalleled opportunity to capture conversations from those on the ground about lessons learned and emerging implementation issues.

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Bottom-Up Financing Options for Green Infrastructure: What Will Your Approach Be?

seedlingGreen Infrastructure (GI), a common term to refer to a range of different types of small and mid-scale installations that support water management and other environmental goals, has become a growing component of many local government’s environmental stewardship strategies. Rain gardens, restored urban water-ways, increased tree plantings, permeable pavement and other distributed “nature mimicking” infrastructure installations are making their way into Green Infrastructure plans across the country (like one recently created in Durham, NC). While many local governments are making strides in implementing these installations, other local governments are still in the pilot phase – experimenting with demonstration projects but nowhere near scale with their investing, at least compared to other types of their infrastructure investing.  As these installations become an accepted part of a local government’s infrastructure investment portfolio, the inevitable “How to pay for it?” questions will arise. While many smaller scale demonstration projects across the country have attracted external grant funding, full scale implementation will require a robust financing approach. Continue reading

Crosswalking between Gray and Green Infrastructure for Budget Officers

GreenRoof2As the green infrastructure (GI) approach to water management gains momentum, the budget process needs to adapt to some of the characteristics that make green distinct from the more traditional gray infrastructure approach. As communities are embarking on GI, shortcomings in the budgeting process can falsely create a bad first impression. When inaugural GI projects are grossly over budget for their installation, or need more frequent maintenance than planned, future GI projects may be blocked before the current project’s vegetation can become established enough to produce the significant benefits for which it was designed. However, considering and planning for certain key attributes of GI can fend off this negative cycle. Continue reading

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