Rain Tax? New Frameworks to Protect Our Waterways

Another post related to green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) and how frameworks can generate change. This is the second in a series of posts for my Sustainable Development and Regional Economics class.


Impervious surfaces have gained a lot of attention over the last decade. They are everywhere in our urban environment; from roads, to roofs, to parking lots. The high concentration of impervious surfaces in our cities accelerates the volume and speed of the rainwater causing flooding, erosion, pollution, and combined sewer overflows (CSOs). This hydrograph illustrates the difference in stormwater flows between pre-settlement and urbanized conditions, with a high speed and high volume peak.

Portland and Seattle are ahead of the curve in promoting low-impact development (LID) practices that slow, disperse and absorb rainwater where it falls to the ground.  Seattle now refers to these practices as green stormwater infrastructure (GSI). Portland uses the term “green streets” to describe many of the alternative measures that address stormwater in the right-of-way beyond traditional gray infrastructure (pipes and sewers). Many of these strategies are now being marketed to developers (see National Resource Defense…

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