Last week, the U.S. Water Alliance held their third annual Urban Water Sustainability Leadership Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio. A wide cross-section of individuals attended including utility leaders, city planners, engineers, and environmental representatives, all of whom spoke about the value of using green stormwater infrastructure and how communities across the country — including Denver, Kansas City, Cleveland, Seattle, and Philadelphia — already are seeing its myriad benefits.
This conference was well timed, held only weeks after the White House Council on Environmental Quality and the Environmental Protection Agency hosted a forum to discuss the opportunities and obstacles facing broader use of green infrastructure. Among the most interesting conversations at the Cincinnati conference was one about green infrastructure maintenance. Although traditional gray infrastructure typically only requires maintenance when a system failure occurs, green infrastructure will need more constant attention because most installations are highly visible and appreciated for their aesthetic — in addition to their functional — qualities.
With green stormwater infrastructure still a relatively new concept, cities are still learning how to plan for and address the maintenance needs of their green infrastructure projects. Despite this challenge, conference attendees showed great enthusiasm for its widespread use in the Nation's cities to address water quality issues. If this enthusiasm is any indication of the future, adoption of green infrastructure to create healthier communities with improved water quality is sure to grow.
This post was authored by Hannah Mellman, who at the time, was NACWA's Manager of Legislation Affairs. She has since left NACWA for other opportunities.