Green infrastructure has reached a tip- pingpoint. Thesenature-basedsystems are no longer viewed as last minute
add-ons to massive gray infrastructure projects. Cities across the country are making green infrastructure a stand-alone component of their stormwater
management efforts and creating research-based
project plans specifically designed to channel stormwater away from vulnerable flood zones and promote cleaner, more sustainable waterways.
“Green streets are part of how we do business,”
said Tim Kurtz, head of the green infrastructure pro-
gram for Portland, Oregon. Portland began imple-
menting green systems in the late 1990s in response
to combined sewer overflow (CSO) requirements set
by the state. Over the past 20 years, the city has
retrofitted hundreds of streets across the city with
curb extensions, swales, pervious pavement, and
rain gardens to catch and filter stormwater.
HUGE SAVINGS ATTRACT ATTENTION
The city also launched a downspout disconnection program from 1999-2011 that generated huge
economic returns. The city spent $13 million to dis-
Teamwork Make the Green Work
Green infrastructure has become a mainstream part of
urban water management but cities need skilled talent to
make the most of these investments.
BY SARAH FISTER GALE
The first NGICP program held in Washington, D.C.,
had 62 graduates in December 2016, and another 46
in June 2017. Photo courtesy of DC Water.