The “Clean Water Starts With Me” campaign, the stormwater seminar for the construction industry, rainwater harvesting practices, low impact development (LID) techniques to retain and use stormwater are among the collaborative efforts of Pima Association of Governments’ Stormwater Management Working Group to create a holistic approach to stormwater management in our region.
Our watershed approach: Article in Edible Baja Arizona magazine
Our community leads the way for arid regions in innovative stormwater solutions. In a recent U.S. Environmental Protection Agenday document entitled, “Green Infrastructure (GI) in Arid and Semi-Arid Climates,” the Tucson region was used as an example several times as a growing LID community which uses engineering techniques to mimic natural processes that retain and use stormwater while addressing pollution concerns.
Stormwater management efforts connect with the LID/GI approach through the best management practice of rainwater harvesting including green roofs, permeable materials, alternative street and building design, trees and rain gardens.
Rainwater harvesting keeps yard chemicals on site, treating pollutants in runoff biologically through soil processes and slows flood flows which otherwise would be conveyed through the streets and into our fragile desert washes.
Rainwater harvesting provides the additional benefits of storing water in the soil for vegetation, providing habitat, reducing the urban heat island effect, cooling and shading urban neighborhoods and improving air quality. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found that in most cases implementing well-chosen LID practices saves money for developers, property owners, and communities while protecting and restoring water quality.
Promoting this practice is a great way to build stormwater quality awareness while actively conserving water in arid lands.
The ‘Green Infrastructure for Regional Vibrancy’ Resolution passed by PAG Regional Council on March 26, 2015.
PAG created a resolution highlighting the economic, health and transportation safety benefits of Green Infrastructure (GI) and re-affirming the importance of using stormwater as a water resource for our region. A task force help to advise the creation of the resolution including jurisdictions across the region, Working Group members, and representatives from various fields of expertise representing each issue.
The resolution recognizes how the past Low Impact Development (LID) resolution helped the region to gain awards and celebrates the recent years of success in creating guidance, incentives, and demonstration project which were goals of the 2012 LID resolution. The 2015 GI resolution encourages incorporating green infrastructure as a cost saving option for roadway projects with greater return on investment than grey infrastructure. It encourages sample guidance and policy and also recommends gathering testimonials and measuring how green infrastructure projects benefit our economic vitality, long-term water reliability, heat and drought resilience, urban biodiversity and ecosystem connectivity.
Prioritizing and Enhancing Green Infrastructure
Identify your heat vulnerability and tree shade opportunities through PAG's interactive web map:
Evaluation of GI/LID Benefits in in the Pima County Environment
Green Infrastructure/Low Impact Development (GI/LID) are key design strategies that will allow our region to build value-added community benefit into upcoming infrastructure projects. Understanding the economics for the full life cycle of a project is as important as understanding the planning and technical mechanics of GI/LID stormwater/water infrastructure design solutions. This cost-benefit report, tailored with data specific to the arid southwest, is a tool to evaluate the spending of public funds for GI/LID solutions and account for social and environmental benefits.
In this project, PAG, Pima County Regional Flood Control District and the City of Tucson worked with Impact Infrastructure, LLC and Stantec in 2013 and 2014 on the the beta-stage of test of the automated business case evaluator of stormwater infrastructure called AutoCASE TM.
Additional project results for Sustainable Return on Investment (SROI) research and calculation resources:
Inventory of LID/GI Efforts within Pima County
To gain an understanding of how the jurisdictions within the PAG region are implementing green stormwater infrastructure policies and programs, a wide-ranging analysis was undertaken in the summer of 2012 in a University of Arizona internship at PAG . Using a rather inclusive definition of GI/LID, over 70 policies, programs, and other efforts were documented. This exercise showed, and the figure below demonstrates, that municipal support of GI/LID has increased steadily since 1985.