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Water: Green Infrastructure

What is EPA Doing to Support Green Infrastructure?

Since 2007, EPA has actively supported the use of green infrastructure to manage wet weather.  EPA has released a series of policy memos encouraging the use of green infrastructure to meet regulatory requirements, as well as a series of Strategic Agendas describing the actions the Agency is taking to promote green infrastructure. A central theme of recent Agendas is engaging with local communities through community partnerships and technical assistance programs. Since 2011, EPA has established partnerships with 10 communities, and has provided technical assistance to more than 20 communities. EPA Regions are key players in all of these efforts, and many offer a wealth of targeted information on their own green infrastructure websites.

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Daily Planner Book
Strategic Agenda
In October 2013, EPA released a new strategic agenda (PDF) (7 pp, 982K) renewing the Agency’s support for green infrastructure and outlining the actions the Agency intends to take to promote its effective implementation. The agenda is the product of a cross-EPA effort and builds upon both the 2011 Strategic Agenda (PDF) (5 pp, 350K) and the 2008 Action Strategy (PDF) (38 pp, 941K).



While the new strategy maintains the focus of previous strategies on information exchange and community engagement, the 2013 Strategic Agenda adds a new focus on making green infrastructure a part of business as usual across different levels of government. The agenda identifies five focus areas that the EPA will pursue to encourage the implementation of green infrastructure:

  1. Federal coordination;
  2. Clean Water Act regulatory support;
  3. Research and information exchange;
  4. Funding and financing; and
  5. Capacity building.

Partnership Handshake
Community Partnerships
In April 2011, EPA recognized 10 community partners for their commitment to green infrastructure, one in each of EPA’s 10 regions. EPA coordinates with these partners to highlight effective approaches to implementing green infrastructure, and to share lessons learned with other interested communities. The fact sheets below provide brief summaries of each community’s green infrastructure strategies and programs.


Technical Assistance
Technical Assistance

As part of EPA's commitment to engaging with local communities, EPA has conducted a series of technical assistance projects focused on green infrastructure implementation. These technical assistance projects are intended to address significant technical, regulatory, and institutional barriers to green infrastructure, and to build community capacity by sharing lessons learned. EPA selected 17 communities to receive technical assistance in 2012, 5 communities in 2013, and 14 communities in 2014. Three additional technical assistance projects were also initiated prior to the 2012 program.

2014 Technical Assistance Program
In April 2014, EPA announced the selection of 14 communities to receive $860,000 in green infrastructure technical assistance. Technical assistance will advance the adoption of green infrastructure in the selected communities, while developing knowledge and tools for a national audience. The selected communities will receive assistance for projects related to community resiliency, brownfield redevelopment, operations and maintenance, off-site mitigation, and green infrastructure design. The selected communities are listed below, along with summaries of the assistance requested.

Bath, Maine
Partner: City of Bath
Summary: EPA assistance will help produce a feasibility study and conceptual design for a green infrastructure project in order to mitigate flooding and combined sewer overflows while stabilizing and improving the neighborhood.

Fall River, Massachusetts
Partner: City of Fall River
Summary: EPA assistance will help with an evaluation and concept design of tree filters to address combined sewer overflows, stormwater, air quality, urban heat island, and adaptation to climate change.

Buffalo, New York
Partner: Buffalo Sewer Authority
Summary: EPA assistance will help develop a protocol and institutional controls for post demolition site assessments to verify stormwater performance and ensure that properties retain their stormwater value during redevelopment.

Scranton, Pennsylvania
Partner: Scranton Sewer Authority
Summary: EPA assistance will help incorporate green infrastructure included under the city’s combined sewer overflow Long-Term Control Plan into a comprehensive master plan for a newly developing arts district.

Norfolk, Virginia
Partner: Friends of Norfolk’s Environment
Summary: EPA assistance will help identify green infrastructure alternatives for a low-lying coastal area subject to sea level rise.

Clarkesville, Georgia
Partner: City of Clarkesville
Summary: EPA assistance will help design green infrastructure solutions for a highly impervious downtown area within a small unregulated community.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Partner: Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District
Summary: EPA assistance will help develop a holistic business plan for the operation and maintenance of green infrastructure as a model for other utilities to ensure practices are properly maintained and effective in reducing stormwater runoff.

Saint Paul, Minnesota
Partner: City of Saint Paul
Summary: EPA assistance will help produce a green infrastructure feasibility study for a waterfront stormwater park in a vacated industrial area undergoing redevelopment.

Pueblo de Cochiti, New Mexico
Partner: Pueblo de Cochiti
Summary: EPA assistance will help prepare a Green Stormwater Infrastructure Plan that will integrate green infrastructure into land use planning, stormwater management, infrastructure improvements, transportation planning and open space for community members.

Albuquerque, New Mexico
Partner: Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority
Summary: EPA assistance will help with the design and specifications of green infrastructure features of a rooftop vegetable garden to recycle captured rainwater for irrigation.

Iowa City, Iowa
Partner: City of Iowa City
Summary: EPA assistance will help develop conceptual designs for green infrastructure practices for a riverfront property prone to flooding, which is being converted into park space.

Denver, Colorado
Partner: City and County of Denver
Summary: EPA assistance will support the completion of green infrastructure practice criteria suited for ultra-urban environments and transportation projects including design elements, maintenance procedures, and schedules.

Santa Monica, California
Partner: City of Santa Monica
Summary: EPA assistance will help develop a conceptual design for a 100,000- gallon storage tank that will be used to harvest stormwater from a storm drain system, reducing runoff and replacing potable water used to irrigate parkland

Ada County, Idaho
Partner: Ada County Highway District
Summary: EPA assistance will help explore off-site stormwater mitigation techniques, concepts, and financing options to support green infrastructure in an area undergoing redevelopment.

2013 Technical Assistance Program
In October 2013, EPA announced the selection of 6 communities to receive targeted technical assistance to support the expanded use of green infrastructure. The selected communities will receive a total of $400,000 in technical assistance for projects addressing the selection and design of green infrastructure at a range of scales, in a range of urban contexts, and in a range of climates. The selected communities are listed below, along with summaries of the assistance requested.

Detroit, Michigan
Partner: Southeast Michigan Council of Governments
Summary: EPA assistance will help develop a range of green infrastructure alternatives to meet runoff reduction targets and contribute to regional revitalization.

Lincoln, Nebraska
Partner: City of Lincoln
Summary: EPA assistance will help develop design guidance and a menu of green infrastructure options for the Antelope Creek Watershed Basin Management Plan, which seeks to improve water quality in a highly urbanized creek in the center of the city.

Gary, Indiana
Partner: Gary Stormwater Management District
Summary: EPA assistance will help develop strategies to meet water quality goals through retrofitting underutilized parcels with green infrastructure. EPA assistance may also help develop a green infrastructure jobs training program.

Pima County, Arizona
Partner: Pima County Regional Flood Control District
Summary: EPA assistance will help complete a green infrastructure guidance manual addressing selection, design, construction, and maintenance of green infrastructure practices; and will help assess the costs and multiple benefits of green infrastructure practices in a desert environment.

Spartanburg, South Carolina
Partner: City of Spartanburg
Summary: EPA assistance will develop conceptual designs for green infrastructure practices throughout the Northside Community, a low income community targeted for revitalization that is located in the headwaters of the impaired Fair Forest Creek.

2012 Technical Assistance Program
In July 2012, EPA selected 17 communities in 16 states to receive targeted technical assistance to advance green infrastructure implementation. The selected communities were provided a total of $950,000 in technical assistance for projects including code review, green infrastructure design, and cost-benefit assessments. As each project is completed, EPA will develop a report documenting key findings and lessons learned. The selected communities are listed below, along with either a summary of the requested assistance, or a report describing the completed project.

Barnstable, MA
Partner: Cape Cod Commission
Summary: The Cape Cod Commission has requested assistance in identifying and designing cost effective green infrastructure projects in order to help restore nitrogen impacted estuaries. The projects will be located in environmental justice communities.

Franklin, MA
Partner: Town of Franklin
Green Infrastructure Implementation Strategy for the Town of Franklin, Massachusetts (PDF) (62 pp, 4MB): This report is intended to help the Town of Franklin develop a comprehensive strategy for implementing green infrastructure through practices, programs, and policies. It summarizes the Town’s existing efforts, provides recommendations for improving existing programs and policies, and proposes new approaches for incorporating green infrastructure.

Sanford, ME
Partner: Town of Sanford
Summary: Sanford has requested assistance in redesigning a former mill complex that drains to the Mousam River in order to revitalize the river as a recreational, ecological and economic asset.

Camden, NJ
Partner: Cooper’s Ferry Partnership
Green Infrastructure Barriers and Opportunities in Camden, New Jersey (PDF) (23 pp, 644K): This report presents findings from EPA’s review of regulations and standards relevant to stormwater best management practices within the City of Camden. The report identifies opportunities to minimize impervious cover and promote environmentally sensitive site design during development and redevelopment activities, and identifies potential barriers to the implementation of structural green infrastructure practices.

City of Camden Green Infrastructure Design Handbook (PDF) (42 pp, 2.1MB): This handbook provides residents, builders, city and county staff, and other interested groups with practical information on integrating green infrastructure practices within the City of Camden. The handbook also demonstrates how particular practices can be implemented within new development and retrofit projects in the City of Camden.

Pittsburgh, PA

Partner: Pittsburgh UNITED and 3 Rivers Wet Weather
Addressing Green Infrastructure Challenges in the Pittsburgh Region: Fact Sheet Series (PDF) (12 pp, 2.3MB): This series discusses four design challenges to green infrastructure in the Pittsburgh region: space constraints, steep slopes, abundant and frequent rainfall, and clay soils.

Addressing Green Infrastructure Challenges in the Pittsburgh Region: Space Constraints (PDF) (27 pp, 2.8MB): This white paper describes strategies to implement greeninfrastructure on space-constrained sites.

Addressing Green Infrastructure Challenges in the Pittsburgh Region: Steep Slopes (PDF) (23 pp, 3MB): This white paper addresses the concern that green infrastructure is not appropriate for the steep slopes common in the Pittsburgh area.

Addressing Green Infrastructure Challenges in the Pittsburgh Region: Abundant and Frequent Rainfall (PDF) (25 pp, 2.3MB): This white paper discusses strategies for implementing green infrastructure in Pittsburgh's humid climate, which is characterized by abundant rainfall and frequent storm events.

Addressing Green Infrastructure Challenges in the Pittsburgh Region: Clay Soils (PDF) (24 pp, 2.4MB): This white paper examines the applicability of green infrastructure practices on clay soils in the Pittsburgh area.

Atlanta, GA
Partner: City of Atlanta
Boone Boulevard Green Infrastructure Conceptual Design (PDF) (49 pp, 5.6MB): EPA developed a green infrastructure conceptual plan for a portion of Boone Boulevard in the City of Atlanta. The goals of the project were to contribute to the revitalization of a distressed neighborhood and reduce flooding and combined sewer overflows. The conceptual design and project prioritization provide a site-specific green street design that complements the city's concept for this transportation corridor and could be integrated with several planned roadway improvements.

Beaufort, SC

Partner:  City of Beaufort
Block-Scale Green Infrastructure Design for the Historic Northwest Quadrant, City of Beaufort (PDF) (60 pp, 5.8MB): Green infrastructure can address several community goals in the historic Northwest Quadrant of Beaufort, South Carolina, including preserving the historic character of the neighborhood, providing community open space, and meeting water quality goals in the Beaufort River and marsh. This report describes two green infrastructure conceptual designs developed to meet these goals at two different scales.

Holland, MI
Partner: Macatawa Area Coordinating Council
Green Infrastructure Barriers and Opportunities in the Macatawa Watershed, Michigan (PDF) (33 pp, 756K): This report describes the findings of a set of green infrastructure code reviews conducted for five partner agencies operating in the Macatawa Watershed: City of Holland, City of Zeeland, Ottawa County Drain Commissioner, Ottawa County Road Commission, and Allegan County Drain Commissioner. The report demonstrates the application of the Water Quality Scorecard, summarizes the findings of the five code assessments, and highlights the importance of involving multiple jurisdictions in the code assessment process.

La Crosse, WI
Partner: City of La Crosse
Summary: La Crosse has requested assistance in modeling green infrastructure interventions in a flood-prone drainage area in order to help adapt to changing climate, improve downstream water quality, and improve neighborhood walkability.

Dallas, TX
Partner: City of Dallas
Green Infrastructure Barriers and Opportunities in Dallas, Texas (PDF) (22 pp, 507K): EPA conducted a code review and charrette in the city of Dallas to identify current practices that either support or present barriers to green infrastructure. This report presents key findings as well as a summary of action items that the City could implement.

Omaha, NE
Partner: City of Omaha
Summary: Omaha has requested assistance in developing tools and guidance that help identify opportunities for cost-effective green infrastructure and ensure that green infrastructure is built properly.

Neosho, MO
Partner: City of Neosho
Green Infrastructure Barriers and Opportunities in Neosho, Missouri (PDF) (23 pp, 1MB): The purpose of this code review was to identify regulatory updates needed to encourage green infrastructure implementation and to comply with Missouri's Small MS4 General Permit.

City of Neosho Green Infrastructure Design Handbook (PDF) (33 pp, 6MB): This design handbook provides a primer on some of the green infrastructure techniques available to the City of Neosho, and presents two conceptual designs to demonstrate the application of these techniques.

Denver, CO
Partner: Urban Land Conservancy
Conceptual Green Infrastructure Design for the Blake Street Transit-Oriented Development Site, City of Denver (PDF) (46 pp, 7.4MB): The Blake transit-oriented development site is a 1.44-acre blighted infill site located a few miles north of downtown Denver and directly across the street from a planned transit station. This report describes how green infrastructure can be integrated into the Blake site, and provides a model for the integration of green infrastructure approaches into compact, transit-oriented development projects

Phoenix, AZ
Partner: City of Phoenix
Green Infrastructure Barriers and Opportunities in Phoenix, Arizona (PDF) (118 pp, 2.3MB): The City of Phoenix provides a unique opportunity to examine the compatibility of green infrastructure practices with zoning and development codes in an urban, arid environment. This report identifies provisions in Phoenix’s plans, policies, and codes that either support or present barriers to green infrastructure. The report also includes recommended code changes that can address barriers and strengthen opportunities for green infrastructure implementation.

Los Angeles, CA
Partner: The Council for Watershed Health
Green Infrastructure Barriers and Opportunities in the Greater Los Angeles Region (PDF) (54 pp, 4.1MB): This report describes green infrastructure barriers and opportunities in the greater Los Angeles region identified by conducting a comprehensive analysis of state and regional regulations, programs, and policies.  The report (1) describes how green infrastructure can meet the goals and requirements of multiple state and regional regulations, and (2) analyzes provisions that might complicate green infrastructure implementation. The report includes a unique analysis of the implications of two current groundwater adjudications for green infrastructure implementation.

Portland, OR
Partner: City of Portland
District-Scale Green Infrastructure Scenarios for the Zidell Development Site, City of Portland (PDF) (39 pp, 8.5MB): The Zidell site is one of the largest brownfield remediation and redevelopment sites in Portland, and offers a unique opportunity to identify comprehensive green infrastructure solutions for a brownfields redevelopment project. This report describes three alternative green infrastructure scenarios for the Zidell site, applying three distinct approaches to integrating green infrastructure into site design.

Seattle, WA
Partner: City of Seattle
Summary: Seattle has requested assistance in assessing the environmental benefits associated with the city's extensive network of green infrastructure in order to improve modeling tools and cost comparison methodologies.

Additional Technical Assistance Projects
The Economic Benefits of Green Infrastructure: A Case Study of Lancaster, PA (PDF) (20 pp, 1.1MB): This case study estimates the value of several of the cobenefits of Lancaster's Green Infrastructure Plan. The case study highlights the importance of including the multiple benefits of green infrastructure in cost-benefit assessments, as well as the importance of adding green infrastructure into planned improvement projects.

EPA Policy Memo
Policy Memos and MOUs
EPA has developed a series of policy memos clarifying the relationship of its enforcement, drinking water, and water permitting programs to the implementation of green infrastructure. MOUs with stakeholders also document how EPA can work with other organizations to accelerate the implementation of green infrastructure.

Memorandum of Understanding between the US EPA and NAFSMA (PDF) (4 pp, 411K) - On February 5th, 2014 EPA and the National Association of Flood and Stormwater Management Agencies signed a memorandum of understanding  that outlined how the two organizations could work together to advance the implementation of low impact development  and green infrastructure. The MOU includes commitments from both organizations to collaborate on encouraging and supporting the use of various approaches to help promote resiliency and assist in improving water quality, and to share available data establishing low-impact development and green infrastructure operation and maintenance costs in various environments.

Memorandum, Achieving Water Quality Through Integrated Municipal Stormwater and Wastewater Plans (PDF) (3 pp, 1.1MB) - In October 2011, EPA’s Office of Water (OW) and Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) issued a joint memo encouraging EPA regions to assist their state and local partners in pursuing an integrated planning approach to Clean Water Act waste and stormwater obligations.  The memo identifies green infrastructure as one example of a comprehensive solution that can improve water quality  while supporting other quality-of-life attributes that enhance the vitality of communities.

Memorandum, Protecting Water Quality with Green Infrastructure in EPA Water Permitting and Enforcement Programs (PDF) (6 pp, 215K) - In April 2011, EPA’s OW and OECA issued a joint memo supporting the use of green infrastructure. The memo reaffirms the commitment of both offices to work with interested communities on incorporating green infrastructure into stormwater permits and remedies for non-compliance with the Clean Water Act (such as Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) consent decrees).

Memorandum, Clarification on Which Stormwater Infiltration Practices/Technologies have the Potential to be Regulated as "Class V" Wells by the Underground Injection Control (UIC) Program (PDF) (6 pp, 215K) - In June 2008, EPA issued a memo reaffirming the use of green infrastructure approaches (including infiltration practices that are classified as 'green') for managing stormwater, and providing an overview of UIC program requirements for stormwater infiltration practices that are classified as Class V wells. The memo is supported by a guide describing the major types of stormwater infiltration practices and explaining which practices are generally considered class V wells.

Memorandum, Use of Green Infrastructure in NPDES Permits and Enforcement (PDF) (2 pp, 924K) - In August, 2007, EPA issued a memo encouraging the incorporation of green infrastructure into National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System stormwater permits and CSO long-term control plans. Additionally, the memo states that green infrastructure can and will be used in future EPA enforcement activities.

Memorandum, Using Green Infrastructure to Protect Water Quality in Stormwater, CSO, Nonpoint Source and other Water Programs (PDF) (2 pp, 156K) - In March, 2007, Benjamin Grumbles, EPA's Assistant Administrator for Water, issued this memo to promote green infrastructure as a viable stormwater management solution.

Map of the United States
EPA Regions
Several of EPA's Regional offices offer local resources on implementing green infrastructure.  These resources include model ordinances and permits, design manuals, case studies, and training opportunities.  To share additional resources or request further information, please contact your Regional green infrastructure coordinator.

 


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