Implementing nature-based stormwater management is more effective with the support of municipal staff, elected officials, developers, the business community and the general public.
To successfully engage these stakeholders, keep their priorities and interests in mind. Here are a few suggestions for how to discuss GSI with different groups.
Significance: Why does GSI matter?
- Good stormwater management is vital for fostering economic growth and quality of life. GSI can accomplish both objectives while providing a host of additional benefits.
Community-wide Benefits: How will it help our city?
- GSI is a smart alternative or compliment to conventional stormwater management that can foster public and environmental health, while also improving community resilience to wet weather events and promoting economic prosperity.
- With GSI, communities can protect water quality, mitigate flooding, beautify streets, sustain growth, enhance property values and reduce long-term taxpayer burdens.
Economic Benefits: How will it help our economy?
- By protecting water quality, GSI supports the economic well-being of local industries that depend on clean water to flourish.
- GSI reduces flood risk, enhances commercial property values and makes commercial spaces more attractive to employers, their staff and their customers.
- GSI delivers improvements that help attract and retain a strong workforce, including walkable streets, green space and cleaner waterways.
- Learn more about economic and social benefits of GSI in this Center for Neighborhood Technology report.
Neighborhood Benefits: How will it help our neighborhoods?
- Neighborhoods benefit from GSI through reduced localized flooding and flood-related health hazards, decreased exposure to water and air pollution, improved community aesthetics, increased social and recreational opportunities, and enhanced property values.
- Learn more about the benefits of green infrastructure in neighborhoods.
Cost: Is it more expensive than conventional methods?
- GSI implementation and maintenance costs are comparable to conventional stormwater infrastructure, and typically yield better outcomes for water quality, nuisance flood control and appearance of roads and facilities. Communities that use GSI usually experience greater cost savings over time.
Suitability: Is it right for our community?
- Sustainable stormwater practices are extremely flexible and can be adapted to suit a wide variety of climates, soil types, densities and uses – from highly compact developments to sprawling residential areas.
Ease: Does it require a full overhaul of existing infrastructure?
- Communities can seamlessly integrate GSI into existing public and recreational facilities, roadways and pedestrian infrastructure to enhance existing stormwater drainage systems.
Impact: Will it really make a difference?
- The documented, positive effects of GSI are cumulative — every tree box filter or rain garden reduces runoff pressure on “gray” infrastructure and helps prevent water pollution. Even the most limited application of GSI can benefit the entire community.
Action: What can I do?
- City and county leaders can learn about and promote the benefits of GSI throughout their communities. They can also support city and county staff in GSI research and implementation, and direct staff to track GSI progress and showcase successes. These success stories can inspire and empower similar communities to embark on GSI projects.
- City and county leaders can also reference the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s benefits of green infrastructure.
Tips for Engaging City and County Leaders
- Meet with leaders in-person to share information about GSI, focusing primarily on the points outlined above.
- Give presentations at public meetings that address common questions and concerns expressed by elected officials and other leaders. These templates can help get you started.
- Share handouts explaining GSI and its benefits. This brochure offers a broad overview, but you may prefer to create something more specific to your local area. For example:
- Identify specific stormwater challenges in your community and how GSI could serve as a solution.
- Demonstrate how the projected increase in commercial and residential development in your community will impact issues like flood control and water quality, and explain how GSI can preempt such challenges.
- Encourage local leaders and elected officials to attend events and educational workshops related to GSI.
- Connect your city and county leaders with leaders outside of your community that have successfully implemented GSI.
- Green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) can be used to supplement or replace traditional gray stormwater infrastructure for managing the impacts of rain in urban areas.
- GSI can promote economic growth and improved quality of life, which helps local businesses thrive.
- GSI can help protect our water quality, which many local businesses depend on to function and flourish.
- GSI reduces localized flooding, which creates safer commutes, reduces unsightly water hazards, increases property values and provides an improved overall experience for employees and customers.
- GSI delivers improvements that help attract and retain a strong workforce, including walkable streets, green space and cleaner waterways.
- GSI enhances commercial property values by creating aesthetic improvements and reducing flood vulnerabilities.
- GSI can cost about the same as conventional stormwater infrastructure and may even create greater taxpayer savings over time.
- Learn more about how GSI benefits commercial property owners and their tenants in this 2013 report prepared by the Natural Resources Defense Council.
- Businesses and commercial property owners can make a big difference by making small changes around their commercial spaces.
Tips for Engaging Business Leaders and Commercial Property Owners
- Meet with local business leaders and commercial property owners to share the benefits of GSI and explain municipal GSI initiatives.
- Give presentations to local professional associations including chambers of commerce and other industry-specific organizations.
- Identify a commercial area with known runoff or nuisance flooding issues and meet with those businesses and property owners to discuss their concerns and how GSI might help.
- Encourage supportive business owners and commercial property managers to advocate for GSI initiatives via public meetings, newspaper op-eds, articles in local trade publications, blurbs in industry newsletters and on social media.
- Make it easy for business owners and commercial property managers to implement small-scale GSI projects around their buildings – and publicly recognize them when they do.
- GSI can help developers meet municipal stormwater requirements more cost-effectively than conventional methods, while adding value to their projects through aesthetic enhancements, operational and land-use efficiencies, and improved user experience.
Economic Benefits and Cost-Savings
- GSI methods can free up developable space and yield significant cost-savings, both immediately and over time. For example, pervious pavement can save money and space by eliminating the need to build a detention pond. Further cost savings can result from reduced land clearing, land grading, fewer inlets and less stormwater pipes.
- When thoughtfully designed and properly installed, GSI can generate long-term savings on utilities, maintenance and water use.
- GSI creates value for developers by mitigating flood risk and creating lush landscapes and greenspaces that tend to be more attractive to prospective tenants.
- GSI fosters human and environmental health and offers practical and social benefits — all factors that increase the appeal of real estate projects to prospective buyers and tenants.
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has compiled a list of GSI cost-benefit resources where developers can learn more and find tools to inform their own cost-benefit analyses.
- Many commercial and residential developers can attest to the success of GSI across a wide range of applications. The Urban Land Institute published a study in 2017 which outlines the benefits of GSI and profiles real estate projects that prioritized nature-based stormwater methods with profitable development outcomes.
- GSI approaches are extremely flexible and can be successfully adapted for a wide variety of climates, soil types, densities and uses – from highly compact mixed-use developments to master-planned residential communities.
- Developers may face a learning curve when becoming acquainted with GSI, but our municipal staff stands ready to help you make sense of it all and how it can benefit your projects.
- Our city staff want to make it feasible for you to design and build GSI into your projects – from helping you navigate municipal codes and standards to walking you through the types of GSI best-suited for your development and any associated cost-savings or incentives.
Tips for Engaging Commercial and Residential Developers
- Before meeting with developers, become familiar with potential concerns or misperceptions about GSI that may be present. The Environmental Protection Agency offers materials that address some of those concerns.
- Point developers to reputable sources that document the positive outcomes of GSI for commercial and residential real estate projects.
- Create incentives for developers to incorporate GSI practices into their projects.
- Create a team of municipal staff and local experts that can advise and assist developers as they navigate the process — from answering their questions about codes and regulations to helping them identify local and statewide incentives and funding sources.
- During the procurement process for real estate projects, give a presentation at pre-bid meetings outlining the benefits of GSI.
- Connect with and offer to speak at industry association meetings, such as your area’s ULI District Council or your local BOMA and FHBA chapters.
- Equip your economic development team with basic information and resources related to GSI so they can have informed conversations with developers who want to start new projects in your community.
- Our city is taking a smarter approach to managing stormwater that fosters positive public and environmental health, improves resilience to wet weather events and strengthens our economic well-being.
- With GSI, we can help protect water quality, mitigate flooding, beautify streets, sustain growth, enhance property values and reduce long-term taxpayer burdens.
- Neighborhood leaders play a vital role in educating residents about ways to help protect our local water quality and preserve our quality of life.
- Neighborhoods and homeowners can benefit from GSI through reduced localized flooding and flood-related health hazards, improved community aesthetics, increased social and recreational opportunities, and enhanced property values.
- Chemicals, household pollutants and fertilizer are only a short journey away from local swimming and fishing spots, but natural drainage systems, such as rain gardens, can help filter out those contaminants before they impact our water quality.
- Neighborhoods and homeowners can take small steps that make a big difference. For example, every tree box filter, rain garden and rain barrel reduces runoff pressure on “gray” infrastructure and helps prevent potential water pollution. This means that even the most limited application of GSI within your neighborhood can benefit the entire community.
- Neighborhoods and homeowners can use Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ practices to help reduce stormwater pollution and protect our water quality.
- Small-scale GSI features in your neighborhood can create additional habitats and support local wildlife.
- Learn more about the benefits of green stormwater infrastructure in neighborhoods.
Tips for Engaging Neighborhood Leaders and Homeowners
- Meet with neighborhood leaders and homeowners in areas that will be affected by municipal GSI projects to help them understand how the proposed changes will benefit them.
- Make it easy for neighborhoods and homeowners to implement small-scale GSI projects. This may include offering how-to guides, grants, rebate programs and/or neighborhood workshops related to GSI. Promote these programs through local news outlets, social media, PSAs, signage and neighborhood meetings.
- Connect with active homeowners’ associations to share information about the impact of small-scale GSI projects. Consider speaking at their meetings, sharing printed materials and preparing a brief blurb for their neighborhood newsletter.
- Invite neighborhood representatives and interested homeowners to tour successful small-scale GSI sites in your community.
- Create a community recognition program to publicly acknowledge neighborhoods that effectively implement GSI.
- Partner with local landscaping companies to educate and equip them with information about small-scale GSI practices and Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ so that they can properly assist neighborhoods and homeowners who want to get involved.
- Make education resources readily accessible to inform neighborhood leaders and homeowners about water quality in their area and how GSI can make a difference. The TAPP website created by the city of Tallahassee offers a strong example of how to present information on the complex topic of water quality in a way that is easy for people to understand and implement.
While most of your community engagement efforts will center on the groups listed above, there may be times when you want to communicate with a broader audience. Keep in mind that city and county residents may be either more or less invested in improvements to stormwater infrastructure depending on a wide range of factors, so it’s best to keep things simple and highlight how GSI benefits everyone.
- Our community is taking a smarter approach to managing stormwater that fosters positive public and environmental health, improves resilience to wet weather impacts and strengthens our economic well-being.
- With GSI, we can protect water quality, mitigate flooding, beautify streets, sustain growth, enhance property values and reduce long-term taxpayer burdens.
- GSI can help protect our water quality while also providing a host of other community-wide benefits.
- When it rains, water rushes across roads and parking lots, picking up pollutants such as gasoline, oil and fertilizer, before flowing into conventional stormwater drains. These pollutants end up draining into where we swim, fish and play. Green stormwater infrastructure offers an alternative by capturing rainwater where it falls and allowing it to filter through vegetation and sediment before it reaches our waterways.
- Many local businesses depend on clean water, which means smart stormwater management directly benefits our economy.
Tips for Engaging the General Public
- Include an insert about GSI in utility bills.
- Use social media channels to post GSI quick-facts and promote GSI-related events and resources.
- Pitch a series of articles related to nature-based stormwater management to local newspapers.
- Submit an op-ed about how GSI benefits the entire community.