Chicago to invest millions in stormwater management initiative

December 2013, Vol. 68 No. 12
Image: Irum Shahid

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently announced a significant new stormwater initiative for the Windy City during the annual Water Environment Federation Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC) held Oct. 7-9.

In keynoting the conference’s Water Leaders Session, Emanuel announced that Chicago will spend $50 million over the next five years in “greener, cleaner stormwater management.” The goal, he stated, is to reduce runoff by up to 250 million gallons per year through methods such as permeable pavement, tree-planting and bioswales.
Dubbed the Green Stormwater Infrastructure Strategy Initiative, the plan contains two elements. First, it promotes the building of capital projects that incorporate green stormwater infrastructure, to be guided by a new, interagency government process. Second, it establishes a framework to study climate change impact and conduct a cost-benefit analysis for the possible implementation of further, larger-scale green stormwater infrastructure projects.

“It is clear the abnormal is becoming the new normal with regard to climate change and the environment,” said Emanuel, who also took the opportunity to tout the $7-billion infrastructure investment the city announced last year, part of which includes the replacement/repair of 900 miles of water pipe, 750 miles of sewer line, and 160,000 catch-basins.