Colorado mountains
From Long-Term Data to Understanding: Toward a Predictive Ecology
2015 LTER ASM Estes Park, CO - August 30 - September 2, 2015

Stormwater governance as a framework to investigate urban drainage infrastructure transitions

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Kristina Hopkins
Nancy Grimm
Abigail York

City water managers are faced with the challenge of meeting federal mandates that require reductions in stormwater and sewer overflow pollution into local waterways. Meeting this challenge requires investing billions of public dollars in water infrastructure over the next few decades. To address urban water pollution managers can invest in grey infrastructure (e.g., storage tanks/tunnels), green infrastructure (e.g., bioswale), or a hybrid approach using a combination of grey and green infrastructure. We investigated the use of stormwater governance as a framework to explore socio-political mechanisms that might influence shifts in urban stormwater management styles from grey to green approaches. We defined stormwater governance as the system of institutions and organizations involved in governing the management of stormwater in a city. Stormwater governance was characteristic in twenty-five U.S. cities in relation to the development of Long-Term Control Plans to reduce the occurrence of combined sewer overflows. Governance characteristics related to the federal and local regulatory setting, distribution of power, and stakeholder inclusion in planning process were evaluated in each city. In additions, transitions from grey to green approaches were assessed using the proportion of funds dedicated to green infrastructure and the types of green infrastructure programs initiated in each city.