Green Infrastructure

Heavy rains overwhelm the water systems in many Great Lakes communities. Basements back up, streets flood, and polluted water cascades into the nearest lake or stream.

Water systems are failing in many Great Lakes communities. These aging systems were designed to capture the rainwater that falls on roofs, roads, and parking lots and send it as quickly as possible into the nearest storm drain. All that water is then sent cascading into the nearest Great Lake, river, or stream.

Aging and outdated, the systems are overwhelmed by heavy storms. Neighborhoods flood. Polluted water pours into our waterways. And if we don’t make changes, things will only get worse. Our region is experiencing heavier and more frequent rains. Extreme weather will become even more common in the future due to climate change.

Better Ways to Handle Stormwater

Fortunately, communities across our region are finding creative ways to handle their water. They’re turning to nature-based solutions, also known as “green infrastructure.”

Green infrastructure uses plants and soil to mimic how nature deals with water. It absorbs, slows down, and filters rainwater before the water reaches stormwater pipes or waterways.

Green infrastructure can benefit communities in many ways. It can provide:

  • Cleaner water entering lakes and rivers
  • Greener, more liveable neighborhoods
  • More opportunities for exercise and recreation
  • Communities that bounce back faster from extreme storms
  • Cost savings and long-term business development opportunities for municipalities

How We Work: Communities Lead the Way

Each community we work with designs its own solutions.

We begin by organizing a wide variety of community voices: residents, local businesses, community organizations, elected officials, city staff, technical specialists, and funders. They work together identify the most pressing issues facing their community and how they can work together to implement solutions.

We work with local governments to create cost-effective policies and practices to implement these plans.

We also connect peer cities to share best practices for green infrastructure planning, implementation, maintenance, and funding.

Learn More About Green Infrastructure

Check out our stories and podcasts about green stormwater infrastructure – including case studies for practitioners.

Learn More