On Oct. 7 at WEFTEC® 2013, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the city’s Green Stormwater Infrastructure Strategy Initiative. Over the next 5 years, Chicago will invest $50 million in green infrastructure — one of the largest voluntary investments by an American city. The goal to reduce 946,250 m3 of polluted runoff to the Chicago River and Lake Michigan will be accomplished through proven projects, such as permeable pavement and plantings. These projects are expected to create an additional 37,850 m3 of natural storage.

The plan contains two major elements: building green infrastructure capital projects and planning for the future. Studies will help the city determine future effects of climate change and how large-scale implementation of green infrastructure can benefit Chicago and play into a citywide stormwater management plan. The Green Stormwater Infrastructure Strategy Initiative is in line with goals formed under both Sustainable Chicago 2015 and Building a New Chicago. Traditional infrastructure projects are also under way to control flooding and combined sewer overflows in Chicago. Check out the 2013 progress update on the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago’s Tunnel and Reservoir Plan.

Hear from Mayor Rahm Emanuel as he addresses WEFTEC 2013 attendees during the 2013 Water Leaders session.

In September, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn announced $5 million in green infrastructure grants awarded to 13 communities. The city of Sterling received the program’s largest grant at $1.3 million to remediate a former industrial brownfield site. The project will feature 4 ha of natural landscape restoration; 1372 m of bioswales; a 267-m-wide, 2-m-tall vegetative wall; a wetland complex; 279 m2 of publicly accessible green roofs; three rainwater harvesting cisterns for irrigation; 725 m2 of rain gardens; and a 2230-m2 porous pavement parking lot.

Illinois Environmental Protection Agency has planned a fourth round of Illinois Green Infrastructure Grants. Proposals are due Dec. 13.

Watch Gov. Pat Quinn address WEFTEC 2013 attendees during the Opening General Session.