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Congratulations to the grant awardees from the first round of the Exchange’s Collaborative Grant Program!  The Exchange awarded $85,000 in total to fund three selected collaborations. Award decisions were made by a selection committee made up of volunteer members from the Exchange Planning Committee and Exchange staff and announced on Oct.17th.

The grant program is designed to support collaborations among cities/utilities seeking to work together to solve common green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) problems. Each awarded project reflects the collaboration of at least three Exchange member cities and a well-thought-out plan for disseminating the lessons learned to the rest of the Exchange network.

First-Round Lead Cities and Collaborations:

  • Tucson, AZ: A convening to strengthen the collaboration between GSI leaders and community public health organizations by developing common language, metrics, and inter-departmental connections.
  • San Francisco, CA: A collaborative report of distilled recommendations for building cost-effective GSI Modeling and Monitoring programs, with the goal of advancing national standardization.
  • Vancouver, BC, Canada: A Rainwater Harvesting and Reuse peer-learning exchange that explores how member cities can implement rainwater harvest and reuse initiatives at the district-scale, while focusing on building the capacity of member cities to foster water sensitive design.

In the wake of recent hurricanes and extreme storms that devastated cities and countries worldwide, it’s important to lean on one of the major tenets in sustainable infrastructure: resilience. By using the recent memories to motivate and incite collective action, cities can move forward by responsibly responding to extreme weather disasters and proactively preparing for future ones. We’ve compiled a list of strategies, building from short to long-term, to inform thinking on responses to extreme weather.

  • Assist the most vulnerable during recovery. Help the poorest and most vulnerable in your city navigate the insurance process and develop plans for relocation or recovery.
  • Don’t rebuild in the same flood-prone areas. Eliminate the expensive, unsustainable, and dangerous practice of rebuilding in an area likely to face future flooding.
  • Advocate for stormwater management fees now. Relative to the enormous expense of post-disaster recovery, a proactive stormwater fee seems minute. Cities should use the momentum gathered from hurricanes and flooding to push for stormwater taxes and fees to be enacted immediately.
  • Support flood insurance reform. Congress must mandate greater disclosure and transparency of flood risk data and require FEMA to spend more resources on relocation, which would minimize the continual cycle of rebuilding after disaster strikes.
  • Support a “Green New Deal” to protect disaster victims- past and future. Treat the social repercussions of disasters- financial insecurity, homelessness, health care- like you would the physical repercussions, and dedicate programs and funding to rebuild them.
  • Support equity budgeting. Rather than allocating equal funding to all areas of your city, give extra funds to disadvantaged areas who are already standing on unequal footing. Since these communities are almost always the ones hit hardest by natural disasters and climate change, preventative equity budgeting can help mitigate future crises.
  • Invest in natural systems. As natural disasters and severe flooding become more prevalent, building natural and resilient infrastructure must be at the forefront of our plans.

Exchange user groups convene on an ongoing basis to address member-identified priority areas within the GSI field. Look for specific dates and details in the coming weeks about these outputs from our Maintenance and Co-Benefits user groups respectively:

“Developing a Maintenance and Asset Management Program” Webinar – This webinar will be the first in a three-part series designed to share practices used by Seattle, Portland, and Omaha’s programs with the full Exchange network.

Co-Benefits of GSI Survey – This survey will identify the co-benefits of GSI that the Exchange network values most. This is the group’s first step in supporting efforts to monetize GSI co-benefits.

If you are an Exchange member, or a GSI program manager interested in membership, and would like to learn more about joining a user group, please contact Hannah Magnuson at hannah@giexchange.org.

  • The Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) showcased the GSI sites and lessons learned resulting from its Green City Clean Waters program when it hosted 11 members from the city of Newark last month, who visited to learn about implementing GSI at scale. Read more about the study visit here.
  • Representatives from the city of Southfield and Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) shared their tools and lessons learned with communities interested in implementing GSI at a workshop hosted by Southeast Michigan Council of Governments in partnership with the Great Lakes Commission in Midtown Detroit. Read more about the workshop here.

Buffalo Sewer Authority recently published an RFP seeking consulting teams to work with them throughout 2018 to develop their “Rain Check 2.0” strategic plan for ensuring GSI project delivery. Proposals are due by Wednesday, November 8, 2017 at 10am EST.

Our heartfelt gratitude to our funders for their support of our mission, which makes our work possible.