2015 GSA Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, USA (1-4 November 2015)

Paper No. 276-6
Presentation Time: 9:30 AM


HOPKINS, Kristina G., National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, University of Maryland, 1 Park Place, Suite 300, Annapolis, MD 21401, GRIMM, Nancy B., School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-4501 and YORK, Abigail M., School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85281, khopkins@sesync.org

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 in the coming decades. We used Long-Term Control Plans from 25 U.S. cities to synthesize the types of strategies and programs cities are using to reduce combined sewer overflows. We conducted a content analysis of these planning documents to identify common goals, priorities, and themes. We also compiled information about the biophysical context, type of infrastructure investment (i.e., green and grey infrastructure), and governance of each city's combined sewer system. These data we used to identify which cities have invested or are planning to invest in green infrastructure and the types of programs created to support green infrastructure investments. Results indicated all 25 cities plan to invest some portion of their budget in green infrastructure. However, only 20% of the cities are investing at least 25% of their Control Plan budget in green infrastructure program. Content analysis indicated the cities with larger investments in green infrastructure had clear green infrastructure goals typically stated in terms of impervious cover managed or stormwater volumes captured. These cities also had governance structures to support the green infrastructure program through a stormwater utility, residential incentive programs, or grant programs. Results indicated integrating characteristics the institutions that govern the resource, as well as biophysical characteristics improves our ability to understand the complex feedback driving management decisions that impact urban water systems.