Giving Green Streets the Green Light: Improving Water Quality Through Capital Improvement Policies

Cynthia R. Harris and Christina Libre
Date Released
June 2019
Giving Green Streets the Green Light: Improving Water Quality Through Capital Im

The vast majority of assessed water bodies across the United States are designated as impaired. Cities contribute to the problem with stormwater runoff from roads, buildings, sidewalks, and other impervious surfaces polluting our rivers, lakes and streams. Indeed, many localities are on the hook to meet a gamut of regulatory requirements, from MS4 permits to TMDLs in order to reduce polluted runoff. Innovative localities are turning to green infrastructure practices to reduce flooding, control erosion, and prevent polluted runoff from entering streams and other waterbodies. One method, Green Streets, directly mitigates the environmental impact of roadways by incorporating green infrastructure into public-right-of-way design. A number of forward-thinking localities are implementing Green Streets policies, which mandate integrating green infrastructure every time a municipality undertakes a capital project or significant maintenance work in the existing public right-of-way—systematically transforming, over time, our transportation corridors into Green Streets. Giving Green Streets the Green Light identifies 14 jurisdictions in the United States that have robust Green Streets policies in place, offers 13 recommendations for crafting a robust and effective Green Streets policy, and includes a model Green Streets ordinance that jurisdictions can use as their starting point. An Executive Summary to the report is available here.

This report was funded by the Chesapeake Bay Trust under grant number 15987. This project has been funded wholly or in part by the United States Environmental Protection Agency under assistance agreement CB96336601 to Maryland Department of Natural Resources. The contents of this document do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Environmental Protection Agency, nor does the EPA endorse trade names or recommend the use of commercial products mentioned in this document. Program partners include United States Environmental Protection Agency Region 3, Chesapeake Bay Program, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Baltimore City’s Office of Sustainability, and the Chesapeake Bay Trust.

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