Since February, the Environmental Protection Agency has been steadily announcing awards for their Shoreline Cities Green Infrastructure grants, funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. These grants allow cities to invest in green infrastructure to help reduce urban runoff that can cause sewers to be overwhelmed when it rains and overflow into rivers and streams. Announcements of these grants have been received well, including the most recent announcement in Chicago, where EPA Region 5 Administrator Susan Hedman was joined by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin(D-Ill.), U.S. Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Coalition co-chair Joel Brammeier, president and CEO of the Alliance for the Great Lakes, and Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law &Policy Center, also attended the event.
Funding from these grants can help cities install rain gardens, bioswales, green rooftops, porous pavement, and other infrastructure to absorb, slow, and filter rainwater before it reaches the Great Lakes.
In all, these grants will be awarded to 16 cities around the Great Lakes region. As it stands, the EPA has announced awards for 12 cities. You can read our earlier coverage of the awards for cities in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Ohio. Since then, awards have been announced for cities in Michigan, New York, and Illinois.
In Michigan, the cities of Detroit and St. Clair Shores each received grants to address stormwater infrastructure. Detroit was awarded $1,000,000 to work on planting trees and other native species on vacant lots throughout the lower eastside to absorb stormwater and prevent flooding. Additionally, green infrastructure will be installed in Detroit’s Recovery Park to prevent flooding during rainstorms. Together the projects will reduce discharge to the city’s sewer system by 1.1 million gallons during large storms. St. Clair Shores was awarded $250,000 and will use the grant to install porous pavement and rain gardens at Kyte Monroe Park. These changes to the park will reduce discharge to the city’s sewer system by 95,000 gallons during heavy rains.
In New York, the city of Buffalo was awarded $500,000 for green infrastructure work on Niagara Street. The project is expected to reduce up to 4.9 million gallons of stormwater runoff yearly, reducing not only flooding, but also pollution from road salt, oil, and grease. On Niagara Street, workers will install porous asphalt to absorb rainwater and rain gardens will line the sides of the street to reduce flooding.
In Illinois, the city of Chicago received two grants totaling $1,000,000 to install green infrastructure to protect Lake Michigan. Projects at Montrose Beach and along Leland Avenue in uptown will reduce polluted discharges during heavy rains by 4.9 million gallons each year.