It is not easy being green: Recognizing unintended consequences of green stormwater infrastructure

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29 Scopus citations

Abstract

Green infrastructure designed to address urban drainage and water quality issues is often deployed without full knowledge of potential unintended social, ecological, and human health consequences. Though understood in their respective fields of study, these diverse impacts are seldom discussed together in a format understood by a broader audience. This paper takes a first step in addressing that gap by exploring tradeoffs associated with green infrastructure practices that manage urban stormwater including urban trees, stormwater ponds, filtration, infiltration, rain gardens, and green roofs. Each green infrastructure practice type performs best under specific conditions and when targeting specific goals, but regular inspections, maintenance, and monitoring are necessary for any green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) practice to succeed. We review how each of the above practices is intended to function and how they could malfunction in order to improve how green stormwater infrastructure is designed, constructed, monitored, and maintained. Our proposed decision-making framework, using both biophysical (biological and physical) science and social science, could lead to GSI projects that are effective, cost efficient, and just.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number522
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Volume12
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research received no external funding. The first author was supported by a fellowship from the National Science Foundation (grant number 00039202). The ninth author was partially supported by the US Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (Hatch/Multistate project MN 12-109). The authors wish to acknowledge the contributions and support of various individuals and groups without which this study would not have been possible. Firstly, we respectfully acknowledge that the lands on which this study occurred are the original homelands of the Dakota and Ojibwe Nations. And we aspire to honor and respect the Indigenous peoples who were forcibly removed from and are still connected to this territory by owning our part in their continued displacement. The authors also wish to thank the following: Katie Wilson, Biosciences Liaison Librarian and Scientific Data Curator at the University of Minnesota Libraries for assisting with the term usage analysis; Sarah "Winnie"Winikoff, Graduate Student in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior at the University of Minnesota, for helping to conceptualize the wind sheltering reduction scheme for stormwater ponds; M.B., Writing Program Coordinator at the University of Minnesota Graduate School Diversity Office for assisting with paper organization; and Micaela Magee, Project Coordinator at Datatrend Technologies, for assisting with manuscript clarity and enhancing visualization design. Lastly, this manuscript would not have been possible without the ideas incorporated from personal conversations and research presentations by the following: Cameron Twombly, former Graduate Student at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering of the University of Vermont; A.E., Researcher at the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory of the University of Minnesota; B.J., Researcher at the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory and Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior of the University of Minnesota; A.C., Assistant Professor at the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology of the University of Delaware; J.H., Research Assistant Professor and Program Director at the Stormwater Center of the University of New Hampshire; E.F.-B., Associate Professor at the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Ocean Engineering of the Stevens Institute of Technology; S.S., Principal at Geosyntec Consultants; and Ross Bintner, Engineering Services Manager at the City of Edina, Minnesota; Lauren Williams, Landscape Designer at DesignJones LLC; Natalie Carmen, Project Engineer at Stewart; Shahram Missaghi, Water Resources Regulatory Coordinator at Minneapolis Public Works; and M.J., Senior Associate at Hazen and Sawyer.

Funding Information:
Funding: This research received no external funding. The first author was supported by a fellowship from the National Science Foundation (grant number 00039202). The ninth author was partially supported by the US Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (Hatch/Multistate project MN 12-109).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by the authors.

Keywords

  • Bioretention
  • Ecosystem services
  • Environmental justice
  • Green gentrification
  • Green infrastructure
  • Ponds
  • Stormwater
  • Sustainable development
  • Urban trees

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