Graham Sustainability Institute

Making Governance Work for Green Stormwater Infrastructure on Vacant Land in Legacy Cities

September 2018

Margaret Dewar, Grace Cho, Rebecca Labov, Moira Egler, & Alicia Alvarez.

Report topic:
Research on how seven US cities with post-industrial population loss have navigated governance challenges to implement GSI on vacant land.

NEW-GI (Neighborhood, Environment, and Water research collaborations for Green Infrastructure) contributes to knowledge about green infrastructure in legacy cities by integrating research about water quality, community well-being, governance and ecological design. Involving community, government and academic collaborators, it produces evidence-based guidance for sustainably managing stormwater in ways that enhance landscapes and the lives of residents in Detroit and other legacy cities.

NEW-GI ecological designs link Detroit’s vacant property demolition process with new forms of green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) that aim to manage stormwater as well as increase nearby residents’ well-being. This research uses a transdisciplinary design-in-science approach, in which researchers, practitioners and community members work together to contribute knowledge addressing social and ecological objectives. NEW-GI researchers assess the performance of different GSI designs and governance approaches. This assessment provides evidence for making decisions about how GSI can better achieve objectives.

Public officials in legacy cities are innovating in governance to improve implementation and maintenance of GSI. This report describes approaches that have worked or show promise for success in seven legacy cities. These innovations tackle barriers that other legacy cities also experience. This report synthesizes these experiences to offer ideas about GSI adoption and maintenance across legacy cities.

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