Creating Resilient Infrastructure: Overview
- Reduce vulnerability/enhance resilience of Springfield residents
- Reduce vulnerability/enhance resilience of existing and planned infrastructure
According to the EPA, “Green infrastructure is a cost-effective, resilient approach to managing wet weather impacts (i.e., flooding) that provides many community benefits. While single-purpose gray storm water infrastructure—conventional piped drainage and water treatment systems—is designed to move urban storm water away from the built environment, green infrastructure reduces and treats storm water at its source while delivering environmental, social, and economic benefits.” Green infrastructure uses vegetation such as trees and perennials, in combination with soils and engineered materials, to filter and absorb storm water. These same vegetative and engineered materials can provide shade for sidewalks, clean the air, and conserve home energy use by blocking cold winter winds and hot summer sun. Every street tree, every park, and every garden you see is a form of green infrastructure, providing monetary and public health benefits.
Economically disadvantaged residents and deindustrialization has left the City with a low tax base, leading to deferred maintenance and weakening infrastructure. For example, the City is still using storm water standards from 1950. The DPW believes resilient (or green) infrastructure (GI) is a good idea, as long as implementation decisions are made on a site-specific basis. Standards may need to be different between public/private and in new site development vs. redevelopment, and should include off site mitigation options when integrating GI into planned development is a challenge. The City’s goal is to have storm water as clean as possible and water quality needs to be addressed. As many vulnerable areas in the city are densely developed, the best place for GI in vulnerable areas is on private property. Experience in the City has shown that convincing economically challenged residents to host green infrastructure on their property is challenging. The City favors moving incrementally because a staged approach allows learning to take place. There are still considerable basic needs to successfully design and implement a comprehensive GI plan for the City, including collecting and tracking data on soils in Springfield, where appropriate for infiltration, and where there is contamination, etc.
- Develop a Springfield-specific green infrastructure design manual.
- Highlight projects already installed in the city to help build the case for more GI, and use these sites to educate neighborhood groups.
- Set up “pop up green infrastructure” in places where it might work as a way to gather feedback from residents, engage neighborhoods, and demonstrate how it works.