Alex Murray / Clare Everts / Jamie Manley / Fabiola Villa

Students in the stormwater group are conducting research on urban stormwater management incentive programs in the Great Lakes region. The partner organization, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC), is currently managing the Milwaukee Avenue Green Development Corridor program in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago and is assessing the most effective methods to incentivize private landowners to install stormwater management on their properties.

In recent years, stormwater management has become a greater priority as communities try to reduce flooding and pollution from stormwater that runs into combined sewers. Communities are increasingly turning to “green infrastructure” to control stormwater runoff. Examples of such technology include rain barrels, rain gardens, and permeable pavement. Green infrastructure mimics natural hydrology to capture precipitation and filter out contaminants, preventing polluted runoff from entering streams and lakes.

To be truly effective, green infrastructure must be implemented where rain falls, which for most urban locations means on private property. To this end, local governments have incentivized the installation of green infrastructure on private property through homeowner subsidies, fee credits, grants, and award programs. Low impact green development is an attractive alternative to large-scale stormwater infrastructure because it can serve a wide variety of sites and be installed relatively cheaply.

The EAF stormwater management incentive group is currently researching existing green infrastructure incentive programs and the success of these incentives in encouraging homeowner involvement and achieving reduced levels of stormwater runoff. The group will compile a report with their findings and conclusions for the Metropolitan Planning Council.

Read more about the green infrastructure project in MPC’s What Our Water’s Worth.