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Green Infrastructure for Economic Development in the City of Evansville, Indiana

The City of Evansville, Indiana is a medium size community with a sizeable challenge of managing their combined sewer system. EMH&T recently worked with the Evansville Water and Sewer Utility (EWSU) to complete a comprehensive study and develop programmatic recommendations for green infrastructure options to resolve combined sewer overflow issues under the City of Evansville’s Consent Decree with the US EPA and the Department of Justice.

Realizing the benefits of public-private partnerships and the value of green infrastructure as a component of site re-development and other urban revitalization projects, EWSU instituted a cost-share incentives program to provide supplemental funding to projects which capture and remove stormwater runoff from the combined sewer system.

By leveraging the financial resources of private entities and other City departments, the cost-share program is providing low cost solutions to help address EWSU’s combined sewer overflow challenges, ultimately keeping sewer rates as low as possible while still pursuing compliance with the Consent Decree requirements.

Evansville has embraced the utilization of green infrastructure to enhance infrastructure improvement projects while benefiting the aging combined sewer system, and continues to evaluate specific green infrastructure opportunities associated with the urban infrastructure projects originally identified in the Integrated Overflow Control Plan (IOCP).

Several opportunities were incorporated into the City’s IOCP and submitted to the EPA. These opportunities are of various sizes and complexity and are intended to capitalize on anticipated urban infrastructure improvement projects. One such opportunity is a cost share program to incentivize the use of green infrastructure within private site development and capital improvement projects. The first program of its kind within the area, the supplemental funding provides a way for the City to meet the needs of the Consent Decree and goals of the IOCP.

EMH&T completed the design of the first private site development project approved by the City for supplemental funding under this incentive program. The project, called Professionals Plaza, incorporates green infrastructure features designed to capture and remove the first two inches of stormwater runoff from the combined sewer system over the 2.3 acre development site. Located on property which was previously the headquarters for the local school district, the site has been redeveloped as a commercial property housing office space and a credit union.

As the first recipient of the EWSU funding, the Professionals Plaza project was designed with an infiltration bed installed under the parking lot to redirect over two million gallons of rain water annually away from the combined sewer system. The result of this design was an agreement with EWSU to contribute $414,742 to the construction of the project, representing a considerable financial incentive for the developer.

The Professionals Plaza project is one of the several local “show-and-tell” projects that can help decision makers move closer toward the green infrastructure suite of solutions in the future. This project was a private redevelopment project supported with Utility participation because of its stormwater redirection performance and ultimate reduction in CSO volumes and peak flow discharge.

EMH&T’s Brian Brown, PE, CFM is always available to further discuss planning of financial and sustainable incentives for economic development in your community. You can contact Brian at (317) 806-6553 or bbrown@emht.com.

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