Model Natural Infrastructure Approach Pays Big Dividends in Toledo

Toledo, Ohio, has travelled a typical Rust Belt trajectory from booming industrial economy to environmental and economic decline. As city officials began to write the next chapter, they wanted to address problems with water quality and recurring flooding in a sustainable way.

Working with NOAA and other Digital Coast partners to study the Silver Creek watershed, the City of Toledo conducted a study to identify areas of greatest flood risk, estimate the economic toll of past and future flooding, and explore potential green infrastructure benefits. According to the study, implementing green infrastructure approaches would result in an estimated $700,000 in benefits over a 20-year period. Additional benefits would include improved water quality, higher property values, and improved natural areas for wildlife habitat and community recreation areas.

The study resulted in the city receiving $500,000 from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lakes Shoreline Cities Grants for two approved green infrastructure projects. Green infrastructure “benefits our waterways because it’s inviting; people want to see green open spaces,” says Patekka Pope Bannister, Toledo’s chief of water resources. Citizens are beginning to view neighborhood green infrastructure projects, such as rain gardens and permeable alleys, as “their contribution to water quality.”

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Partners: City of Toledo, Environmental Protection Agency, NOAA Office for Coastal Management