Building With Nature - Scaling-up Green Infrastructure to Restore Urban Watersheds
What is the impact of one rain garden or of one green infrastructure workshop? When does the number of installed rain gardens reach a tipping point and make a measurable, large-scale change in a community?
Tucson is sitting at that tipping point. WMG, along with many other grassroots groups, neighborhoods and families, have been installing rain gardens and green infrastructure projects across the city for over a decade. The city and county have piloted green infrastructure designs, approved new city codes, and supported water-harvesting rebate programs. But Tucsonans are hungry for more and want to ensure green infrastructure is scaled-up and becomes an integral part of our city’s infrastructure (pg 12).
Now we’re seeing some big changes lining up for our watershed. In June, a new recycled water project came online that creates perennial ow in the Santa Cruz River downtown (pg 6).
Mayor and Council will soon be voting on a Green Stormwater Infrastructure Fund, with $3 to $5 million devoted annually to installing and maintaining public green infrastructure. And this summer, the Bureau of Land Management is publishing a plan to reintroduce beavers into Ciénega Creek, a tributary to the Santa Cruz River (pg 4).
These efforts may seem disconnected. But in fact, they are part of a new wave of watershed management and urban development that is working to build with nature instead of building without regard to nature. In a desert city, healthy rivers are the ultimate green infrastructure, with the ability to provide wide-scale cooling and ecosystem services to help manage our stormwater, provide a sustainable future water supply, and essential habitat for our desert creatures. We can learn from nature on how to best slow, spread, and sink water into our aquifer. And sometimes we need to step back and enable nature to do the work, as beavers can do, when they are reintroduced into the Santa Cruz Watershed.
The time is ripe to scale up green infrastructure to restore our urban watersheds. In true WMG form, we’re sharing the know-how and ways for you to be an essential part of this movement.