Toolkits & Reports

A Blueprint to Scale Up Urban Reforestation and Wetland Restoration in Underserved Communities Across the Greater Milwaukee Area

This report examines Milwaukee’s history, changing rainfall amounts, capital improvements, and the need to enhance investments in nature-based solutions in underserved communities across the Greater Milwaukee region. Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD)’s Reforestation and Wetland Restoration (RWR) program is an ambitious 10-year initiative leading to a) planting of six million trees, b) restoring 4,000 acres of wetlands, c) capturing an estimated 350 million gallons of stormwater with trees, and d) storing up to an estimated 1.5 million gallons of floodwater in every acre of wetland. The report recommends the use of a Community-based Partnership (CBP) to scale-up this program and make the region climate-resilient.

Key Findings:

Since 1950, average precipitation in Wisconsin has gone up by around 17 percent. Extreme rainfall events have become more frequent as well.
MMSD is a national leader and has committed substantial resources to the use of nature-based solutions (NBS) to address flooding and water quality issues.
Interviews with local community leaders suggest urban flooding is a top priority, followed by organizational capacity and funding; NBS has the potential to meet these priorities and build trust between government and the public.
Use of a CBP to scale up NBS across the MMSD service area, especially in underserved communities, is needed for delivery efficiency, cost savings, risk transfer, and dramatic socio-economic impacts.
MMSD is a national leader in the use of CBPs and as such, can leverage its existing experience to enable such a framework.

Green Job Creation in the Nation’s Largest Stormwater Programs

This study by HIP and CIS examines the triple-bottom-line benefits from Green Job Creation within Green Stormwater Infrastructure initiatives. Largest stormwater programs across the country that are studied here-in, include Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District in Wisconsin, Prince George’s County in Maryland, Buffalo Sewer Authority in New York, and Philadelphia Water Department in Pennsylvania. Via a comparison of these large stormwater programs, our analysis describes key elements for bringing green jobs into communities nationwide. Thus, multi-faceted benefits can be achieved across environmental, social, and economic factors with an added focus on underserved communities.

Key Findings:

Role Models for Future Programs

Each of the programs presented in this report has had extensive successes in their regions. For example, the Clean Water Partnership in Maryland’s Prince George’s County underscores the significant environmental and economic impacts achievable for the local community through innovative green stormwater infrastructure projects, supported by a comprehensive green jobs training pipeline.

Multiple Benefits of Green Employment

Green jobs within green infrastructure promote environmental conservation, reinforce social cohesion by weaving robust networks within local communities, and open avenues for economic advancement of citizens including in underserved communities.

Crucial Role of Training Initiatives

Comprehensive green job training programs with paid training opportunities ensure longer-term benefits and an effective transition towards a greener economy.

Strategic Partnerships in Stormwater Authorities

Pioneering stormwater authorities craft and nurture dynamic private-public community partnerships. These collaborations focus on the empowerment of local community stakeholders, along with training and education.

New(er) Government Funding

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) have resulted in an estimated (allocation of) $62.25 billion for water and stormwater infrastructure, including funding to support green job creation.

Guidance for Grant Aspirants

Prospective government-grant seekers should show multidimensional benefits. Projects demonstrably serving a triple bottom line (economic, environmental, social) can score higher, especially if focused on the needs of underserved communities.

A Blueprint to Scale Up Green Stormwater Infrastructure in Underserved Communities Across the Greater Chicago Region

This summary report examines regulatory compliance needs, changing rainfall amounts, capital improvements, and the need to enhance investments in underserved communities across the Greater Chicago region. The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) will need new, innovative delivery frameworks and new sources of financing to make the region climate resilient. The report recommends the use of a Community-based Partnership (CBP) that is already used elsewhere in the Great Lakes.

Key Findings:

Rainfall during intense events across Greater Chicago has increased by 30 percent during the past 60 years and is expected to increase by 15 percent by 2050.
This increased precipitation means MWRD will need bigger and bolder solutions to manage the additional stormwater through a combination of grey and green stormwater infrastructure (GSI).
An analysis of the Space to Grow program in Chicago confirms that the schools selected for GSI installations are indeed located in underserved communities.
Interviews with local community leaders suggest safety, health, and community development are consistently top priorities; GSI has the potential to meet these priorities and build trust between government and the public.
Use of a CBP to scale up GSI across the MWRD service area, especially in underserved communities, is needed for delivery efficiency, cost savings, risk transfer, and dramatic socio-economic impacts.

Climate Change Preparedness of Great Lakes Communities

This report examines changing rainfall amounts across five cities in the Great Lakes region. The focus of the report was to understand whether regulatory permits and community planning efforts are aligned to manage Climate Change-driven increases in rainfall, and found that wastewater facilities in these cities were issued their permits well before most recent precipitation estimates.

Key Recommendations:

Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) permits need to be updated
That “data stationarity” is not relevant anymore, needs to be communicated widely
Legislative reforms are needed to incorporate future climate data
Legislative reforms are also needed for communities to work closely with the private sector insurance industry
Alternatives to grey infrastructure must continue to be leveraged at large-scale
Options to make existing/future water (green or grey) infrastructure more efficient must also continue to be leveraged
Emphasis on upgrading infrastructure needs to continue
Funding for water infrastructure in general and green stormwater infrastructure in particular, at the federal and state levels, needs to be made available

Unlocking Clean Water State Revolving Funds to Finance Resilience Projects Across the Great Lakes Region

Established in 1987, Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) have played a key role in improving water quality in the United States by providing more than $145 billion to finance more than 42,800 projects nationwide. This report looks at the current status of how CWSRF dollars have been spent across the Great Lakes states, and proposes greener priorities that would spur transformation in environmental, economic, public health, and social outcomes.

Recommendations to increase investment in green stormwater infrastructure (GSI):

Change legislation, agency goals, and project ranking criteria to promote GSI
Offer additional subsidies and sponsorship opportunities for GSI use
Develop local revenue streams and maintenance practices
Engage in outreach to foster enthusiasm for GSI
Utilize SRF-financed GSI investments to advance equity

A Design Guide for Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) Best Management Practices (BMPs)

Meant for public sector and non-profit managers, planners, and decision makers, this tool-kit contains the following guidance for four classes of BMPs:

  1. Background details
  2. Customization options
  3. Maintenance information
  4. Costs
  5. Specifications
  6. Design details

Classes of BMPs:

Bio-retention practices such as bioswales, rain gardens, and stormwater planters
Naturalized detention practices such as wet/dry bottom detention ponds etc
Bio-filtration practices such as spreaders, filter strips, and vegetated swales
Other urban practices such as box tree filters, green roofs, and permeable pavements

Climate Risks and Opportunities in the Great Lakes Region

The report features narrative context and analysis of publicly available data pertaining to the 653 counties in the eight Great Lakes states in the United States. Based on a composite rating, a priority list of Great Lakes counties has been produced that are best suited for intervention due to being highly at climate risk, with highly vulnerable populations, with highly agile workforces, and strong financial capacity.

Key Findings:

Overview of Climate, Social, Workforce, and Financial Metrics
Top 20 Best Fit Great Lakes Basin Counties for GSI Intervention and Planning

Paying for Water Quality Improvements and Resilience in the Great Lakes – A Toolkit for Green Stormwater Infrastructure

This toolkit presents traditional and newly emerging funding and financing options for green stormwater infrastructure. The report memorializes rapid advances being made in the Great Lakes region although findings presented herein, are easily applicable elsewhere in the country.

Key Findings:

Key Questions to Ask to Develop a Strategy to Finance/Deliver Green Stormwater Infrastructure
  1. Size and scope of need
  2. Regulatory environment
  3. Existing funding capacity
  4. Available grant opportunities
  5. Applicability and feasibility of new funding sources
  6. Availability of implementation partners
  7. Financing costs and benefits
  8. Risk management
Local Funding Strategies
These include general fund appropriations, new taxes, stormwater utilities, permit review and other special fees, etc.
Traditional Public Bonds and Loans
These include municipal bonds, clean water state revolving funds, drinking water state revolving funds, water infrastructure finance innovation act, etc.
Private Financing and Procurement Strategies
These include community-based public private partnerships, environmental impact bonds, pay-for-success, and stormwater credit trading.

Assessment of Market Size of Large-scale Use of Green Infrastructure in the Great Lakes Region

This report presents the findings of an initiative to expand the use of green stormwater infrastructure in the Great Lakes Basin through the use of private financing and/or private delivery. Presented here-in are assessments of the market size, key drivers of green stormwater infrastructure, benefits of private delivery/finance, and relevance of stormwater utilities.

Key Findings:

Market Size in the Great Lakes Basin
Stormwater utilities and their associated fees are an attractive means of repaying private investments. Ohio, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana, collectively, have a large and growing number of stormwater utilities that generate a dedicated revenue stream, a portion of which could be used to support private financing/delivery of large-scale green infrastructure. We estimate that the potential market size for private investment in green infrastructure exceeds a billion dollars in these five states.
Market Drivers
Market drivers for private delivery and investment in large-scale green infrastructure are enhanced by community leadership, cost effectiveness, efficient and cheaper project delivery, performance based risk transfer, strong regulatory drivers, availability of dedicated stormwater funding, and P3-enabling legislations.
Relevance of Stormwater Utilities
Lack of a dedicated funding source limits the ability to attract private and public investment. New York, Pennsylvania, and Michigan have no or very few stormwater utilities in place limiting their ability to repay stormwater investments.
Status of P3 Legislations
Although the absence of a stormwater P3 legislation is not entirely prohibitive, its presence greatly facilitates the enactment of a P3. Only two Great Lakes states, Michigan and Indiana, have enacted P3 legislations for non-transportation projects. In other states, Home Rule authorities may be used to bypass the lack of P3 legislations.

A Report to the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District Assessing Delivery and Finance Options to Implement Large-scale Green Infrastructure

After analyzing a variety of P3 options, project team recommends considering the use of either a CBP3 or an EIB for MMSD to meet its 2035 Green Stormwater Infrastructure vision. To enact a CBP3, MMSD doesn’t need private finance, and it can utilize its excellent credit rating to access best-fit public financing/funding strategies via various low-cost tax exempt and/or taxable capital sources, such as State Revolving Fund (SRF) and/or Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loans, municipal bonds, existing property taxes and other general funds. Alternatively, MMSD can use an EIB that allows access to new capital and leverage a high degree of flexibility to scale innovations via a pay-for-performance framework.

Key benefits of a CBP3 to MMSD
  • MMSD and communities retain ownership, governance and decision authority.
  • MMSD and communities retain program savings.
  • Accelerated delivery of a large number of projects.
  • Private partner compensated on performance and achievement of aligned goals and objectives.
  • Private partner retains risk for project delivery, maintenance, etc.
  • Partner is responsible for the achievement of goals through the management of design, build, operation and maintenance processes.
  • Workforce development, economic development, and other socially driven goals can be a CBP3 contract requirement.
Key benefits of an EIB to MMSD
  • Ease of execution and access to new sources of impact capital, which can accelerate funding for innovative uses.
  • Lack of a long-term encumbrance of an asset.
  • High degree of flexibility to scale innovations and transfer risks from pilot projects.
  • Meet the borrowers’ environmental and social objectives.
  • Possibility of engaging multiple payors who benefit from green infrastructure projects (e.g., housing authority, economic development, public health, etc).
  • Ability to use a variety of preferred delivery methods with the public borrower(s) retaining or transferring construction and maintenance risks to the private partner.

A Report to the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District Assessing Delivery and Finance Options to Implement Large-scale Green Infrastructure

A set of public-private partnership options were analyzed for NEORSD that included a CBP3, an EIB, and stormwater credit trading. Of these, stormwater credit trading emerged as the preferred partnership model for NEORSD. To have a successful credit trading program, NEORSD will need to to enact a new low-impact development ordinance, and an in-lieu option as well as a purchase guarantee of credits.

Key Benefits of a Stormwater Trading Framework to NEORSD:

Extension of current program
It is an extension of NEORSD’s current impervious cover fee program.
Retain Ownership and Governance
NEORSD and communities retain ownership, governance and decision authority that guides the framework.
Leverage optimal use
It allows the ability to leverage the uneven rate of economic recovery by prioritizing green infrastructure in areas of lower growth.
Costs of such a program are largely borne by developers.
Access to private properties
It is a flexible framework that will allow access to private properties in the service area.
Accelerated Delivery
Accelerated delivery of a large number of projects instead of delay due to lack of upfront capital.
Local Workforce Development
Workforce development, economic development, and other socially driven goals can be achieved if the framework is designed appropriately.

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