When is a green solution the right solution? Operation and maintenance (O&M), along with environmental benefits and construction costs, are among factors to consider. However, the costs and requirements associated with green infrastructure maintenance are not well documented.

In March, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a report on green infrastructure and O&M practices. The report examines in depth 22 projects funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which funded a total of 259 green infrastructure projects worth more than $209 million. By studying the 22 projects, the document draws conclusions about what makes some maintenance programs more successful than others. It covers planning and tracking maintenance, training and education, the use of partnerships, and funding.

The authority and ability to track maintenance work can help ensure regular compliance with a maintenance plan. Of the projects studied, 55% had accountability mechanisms and 27% had established tracking systems. Training and education can help operators better maintain and inspect the water quality functions of green infrastructure facilities. According to the report, 59% of projects studied developed training or education programs related to O&M. Dedicated funding for maintenance is also key. In the study, 36% of projects utilized public–private partnerships for O&M labor funding, and 59% had a dedicated funding source established, such as municipal general funds or stormwater utility fees. Read more.