Water is essential to life, and the provision of clean water is central to municipal governments. Cities are responsible for distributing a safe and reliable water supply, protecting natural reservoirs and groundwater from pollution, managing the flow of stormwater, and treating sewage and waste. These systems have impacts on public health, the environment and the economy, and increasingly, aging infrastructure poses difficult challenges for city officials. To ensure that water systems are sustainable, cities are adopting policies and long-term investments to conserve fresh water, naturally manage rainwater with green infrastructure, and protect against threats of contamination and scarcity. A functioning water system is critical for society, and NLC is helping city leaders meet current and future demands for clean water while making wise investment choices, boosting the economy, and protecting natural resources.
Case Study: Combining Urban Forestry with Youth Employment Opportunities (2011)
A healthy urban tree canopy has been associated with environmental and economic benefits such as reduced heating and cooling costs, low-cost stormwater management and aesthetic value and comfort. This case study highlights how an urban forestry initiative in New Haven, Conn. has brought together multiple city departments, a community based non-profit and an area university to also generate social value by creating workforce development opportunities for youth and the formerly incarcerated.
Green Infrastructure: Using Nature to Solve Stormwater Challenges (2011)
In order to counter pressures on the municipal sewer system, and inspired by nature's ability to absorb and filter water, cities are turning to ecosystem-based stormwater management projects that are cost-effective, aesthetically pleasing, and beneficial to public health. Short of rebuilding entire conventional pipe and tank systems, many cities are adopting these alternative strategies - referred to as "green infrastructure" - that reduce the amount of water needing treatment while conserving precious water resources for the future. Cities such as Tucson, Arizona; Kansas City, Missouri; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Edmonston, Maryland are finding innovative water infrastructure solutions.
The use of sustainable building practices can alleviate negative impacts from urbanization including urban heat islands, air pollution, stormwater runoff and groundwater contamination. This guide discusses the tangible benefits of greenroofs, as well as city policies and practices that can promote their implementation, and highlights examples of successful greenroof programs.
Greening Your Water Infrastructure (2010)
Water infrastructure needs continue to challenge cities across the country; a growing focus on sustainable practices holds promise for stormwater management. After completing the Congress of Cities workshop, attendees will be able to define "green infrastructure," and describe several examples of stormwater management strategies that blend with the natural environment and reduce stress on traditional systems.
Nation's Cities Weekly Articles
NLC Testifies in Support of Clean Water Infrastructure Investment (July 26, 2010)
In a hearing before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, Kansas City, Mo., Councilwoman Jan Marcason discussed the important role of clean water infrastructure investment in creating jobs, protecting the environment and improving the quality of life in cities and towns. Councilwoman Marcason also described Kansas City's 25-year, $2.5 billion program to improve the city's water quality.
Managing Wet Weather with Green Infrastructure
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency describes green infrastructure as an approach to wet weather management that is cost-effective, sustainable, and environmentally friendly. Techniques can range from large-scale efforts such as the preservation and restoration of forests and wetlands to smaller-scale efforts including rain gardens, porous pavements, rainwater harvesting and green roofs. The EPA provides numerous resources, case studies, training tools and funding opportunities related to green infrastructure.
The Value of Green Infrastructure: A Guide to Recognizing Its Economic, Social and Environmental Benefits
A decentralized, low-impact stormwater management strategy can bring ancillary benefits beyond a decrease in stormwater runoff. This joint report by the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) and American Rivers quantifies the economic value of green infrastructure through energy savings, improved air quality, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and higher property values. By assessing the value of green infrastructure's multiple benefits, this guide, along with its tools and calculators, can inform decisions about stormwater management and help communities analyze the appropriate strategy for green infrastructure development.