Green Infrastructure

Green infrastructure uses low impact development (LID) engineering techniques and nature-based solutions to retain and use stormwater for environmental and community benefits. You may recognize it as stormwater harvesting basins that support vegetation. Management of stormwater runoff and pollution supports a more attractive, mobile and safer environment in developed areas.

In the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency document entitled “Green Infrastructure (GI) in Arid and Semi-Arid Climates,” the Tucson region is used as an example of a growing LID community.

PAG has assisted by tracking progress, sharing information through forums and stormwater engagement resources, inventorying best practices across the region, and partnering in studies. Past forums have resulted in reports on goal setting and gap analysis which may be found in the documents links below.

The PAG Regional Council approved a resolution in 2012 regarding GI and highlighting the economic, health and transportation safety benefits of green infrastructure. It reaffirms the importance of using stormwater as a water resource in the greater Tucson region. The resolution encourages incorporating green infrastructure as a cost-saving option for roadway projects with greater return on investment than grey infrastructure. It also recommends measuring how green infrastructure projects benefit economic vitality, long-term water reliability, heat and drought resilience, urban biodiversity and ecosystem connectivity.

Green infrastructure provides habitat, reduces the urban heat island effect, improves stormwater quality, adds cooling and shading to urban neighborhoods and improves air quality. Stormwater harvesting and other green infrastructure practices keep yard chemicals on-site, treating pollutants in runoff biologically through soil processes and slowing floodwater which otherwise would be conveyed through the streets and into desert washes.

PAG’s green infrastructure prioritization tool is an interactive map developed to help decision-makers allocate limited financial resources to high impact opportunities. Available data layers on the map include regional tree canopy, surface temperature, vulnerable populations, the PAG Bikeways map, impervious surfaces, and stormwater flow lines. The map allows you to explore the relationships between environmental conditions and social demographics. When a higher level of shade trees is present as a result of enhanced stormwater management, for example, you see heat reduction benefits.