The City of Grand Rapids in partnership with Milwaukee, American Rivers, the Center for Neighborhood Technology and the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative worked on an EPA funded project to create a system that would allow cities to steadily plan and implement decentralized stormwater management controls (known as Green Infrastructure) over an extended time period. The result was the Green Infrastructure Portfolio Handbook which can be used by other communties.
The use of green infrastructure for stormwater management in the United States has been somewhat random to this point in time, and has been based more on the attitudes of specific stormwater managers and departments than on broad policies or regulations directing its use. In addition, because stormwater infrastructure in existing urban areas is for the most part already constructed, the systematic addition to, or replacement of, a significant portion of that infrastructure with green infrastructure can only take place over a long period of time, with appropriate planning. To address this situation, we are establishing long-term goals for increasing the use of green infrastructure strategies and systems, in order to provide an appropriate framework for the necessary planning with regard to prioritizing the types and sizes of projects, developing budgets, organizing human resources and setting construction schedules.
Many states have recognized the need to increase the use of renewable energy sources to produce electricity by establishing long-term goals, known as renewable energy portfolio standards. These state energy programs typically involve regulations that require major utilities to gradually increase the percentage of the electricity they produce for the local market that is provided from renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and hydroelectric power. For example, the utilities may be required to increase the renewable portion of their energy portfolio by 1% or 1.5% per year, for a number of years, with a final target of 25% or more.
We believe this format could be an excellent tool for increasing the use of green infrastructure for stormwater management. In this project, we will work with relevant city staff to develop a customized program to set goals, define project areas, identify code and ordinance changes, develop GIS information and promote interagency communication. At the end of this project, each city will have a system they can implement, if they so choose, to gradually but steadily increase the use of green infrastructure in their jurisdiction over an extended period of time.