The following is the third and final part of an email interview I recently conducted with Emily Hauth, project manager with Portland Bureau of Environmental Services (BES)’s Sustainable Stormwater Management Division. Their agency has been a leader in sustainable stormwater implmentation over the last twenty years.
Green Infrastructure Digest (GrID): When it comes to new construction or public projects, it is much easier to require and/or encourage the use of green infrastructure best management practices. Existing development has proven to be much harder, what strategies has the City used to encourage existing developments to retrofit their properties to include green infrastructure and reduce/cleanse stormwater runoff?
Ms. Emily Hauth:
- Downspout Disconnection Program (1995- present) – Disconnecting downspouts from the sewer system allows roof water to drain to lawns and gardens. Downspouts on many homes are connected directly to the combined sewer system and disconnecting them keeps clean stormwater runoff out of the combined sewer system, which reduces CSO volume. Over 56,000 downspouts have been disconnected since the program began 15 years ago
- Community Watershed Stewardship Program (1995-present) – provides grants of up to $10,000 to schools, churches, businesses and other community organizations for projects that connect people with watersheds and protect and enhance watershed health.
- Willamette Stormwater Control Program (2001-2003) – The city offered financial grants and technical support for several projects to retrofit existing commercial properties served by the combined sewer. This was to research the feasibility, cost and performance of commercial sustainable stormwater approaches. The city distributed about $350,000 to 11 projects.
- Innovative Wet Weather Program (2002-) – promotes stormwater management projects that contribute to healthy Portland watersheds. Between 2002 and 2005, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) granted the city $2.6 million to fund over 25 innovative public and private projects throughout the city that demonstrate sustainable, low-impact stormwater management solutions.
- Clean River Rewards (2006-present) – a stormwater utility discount program for private property owners who manage stormwater on their property. They can receive a discount of up to 100% of their on-site stormwater management charge.
- Grey to Green Program (2008-) – The city offers incentives of up to $5 per square foot to add new ecoroofs. The city also offers treebates to encourage people to plant eligible yard trees. The treebate is a credit on the recipient’s sewer bill of up to $40 per tree ($50 for native species).
- Private Property Retrofit Program (2009-) – The Tabor to the River Program offers design assistance and construction dollars for on-site stormwater management on targeted private properties. The program is available only in areas where stormwater retrofits will allow the city to avoid more costly sewer replacement projects. The city will install rain gardens, stormwater planters, swales or ecoroofs on sites that meet program criteria at no cost to the property owner. Property owners who want to install a facility themselves could qualify to receive financial incentives and technical assistance.
- WorkingGreenPortland.com (2009-) – includes information on private property stormwater management technique, calculators to determine impacts for individual properties, and links to stormwater retrofit professionals and other resources.
- Ecoroof Floor Area Ratio Bonus – Development proposals in the central city that include a green roof, can receive bonus floor area.
- Education and Outreach – Numerous efforts to engage communities and increase public understanding and acceptance are critical to the success of all city programs.
- Technical Assistance – the city offers technical assistance to professionals and property owners for implementation of sustainable stormwater management approaches.
GrID: What do you see as the future of green infrastructure?
Ms. Hauth: I would say future green infrastructure in our urban environment will include:
- Green connectors – streets that connect parks and open space, schools, and commercial areas to neighborhoods; encourage walking and biking by providing enhanced and safer pedestrian and/or bicycle routes; and provide environmental benefits.
- Green refuges within our urban environment – reclaiming unused spaces or derelict sites within our cities for stormwater management and passive recreation.
- Ecodistricts – integrated neighborhoods that capture, manage, and reuse a majority of energy, water, and waste on site; offer a range of transportation options; provide a rich diversity of habitat and open space; and enhance community engagement and well-being.
- Volunteer Green Street Maintenance Program – engaging community members to help in the care and maintenance of green streets.
- Possible onsite stormwater management discount to property owners for adjacent public green streets.
- Cost benefit analysis of the ecosystem services provided by green infrastructure in meeting the triple bottom line.
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If you missed the first parts of the interview, you can find them here.