Improving Green Infrastructure

Local governments across the country face serious challenges in managing urban stormwater (surface water runoff resulting from rainfall or snowmelt). Aging infrastructure, changes in precipitation patterns, watershed deforestation, and impervious surfaces such as roadways and parking lots cause urban flooding and more polluted waterways. Climate change will exacerbate these flood risks in many places due to more intense storms that could overwhelm existing infrastructure systems.

Hurricane Sandy demonstrated these immense threats to water infrastructure. It brought intense rainfall, strong winds, and a record 13-foot storm surge that overwhelmed water facilities in eight states and resulted in the release of almost 11 billion gallons of sewage into local rivers and bays. Altogether, water infrastructure failures in the wake of Hurricane Sandy released enough sewage to fill New York’s Central Park to a depth of 41 feet.

In order to ensure effective adaptation, communities need help identifying and implementing the most appropriate policies. The Georgetown Climate Center is working with a group of local partners to identify the best green infrastructure practices that cities are beginning to experiment with and to translate these lessons into a toolkit in order to share the best practices with communities across the country.

The Center also developed a toolkit to highlight these best practices. Click here to view the toolkit.