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How our green infrastructure might grow

GCBL staff  |  07/28/08 @ 4:22pm

Cleveland and surrounding cities are geographically positioned to be caretakers-and beneficiaries-of Lake Erie. We are all connected by roads, power lines, and by 'invisible' but vital systems -water and sewer lines, rivers and streams.

When a water line breaks we know who pays for it, but when nasty, toxic stormwater floods into the lake, who pays?

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District recently formed a stormwater advisory committee to plan how we get stormwater issues under control. They're looking at Philadelphia, Milwaukee and cities that have innovated their way to greener urbanism.

NEORSD wants the region to form a stormwater authority that could charge for the amount of impervious surface on each property. With funds from these assessments, stormwater authorities have tapped the resources of water and sewer districts and served as incubators for creative ideas. What's driving it is a new vision that a green city on a blue lake will derive greater economic opportunity (as water scarcity around the globe becomes more acute).

An example that we could see Cleveland adopting is the Green Streets project in Portland (pictured). This award winning design replaced the city's combined storm/sewer pipe system with a landscaped curb extension carved out of a portion of the street's parking zone.

See a picture gallery of green infrastructure ideas here.

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