Browse List of Case Studies

Bellevue, WA
High land prices and topographic limitations led the City of Bellevue to combine stormwater management and recreation functions, in public parks and playing fields, back in the mid-1970s. Moreover, with great foresight, these public spaces were linked together by open space and surface drainages, so that they functioned as an integrated and well-connected community-wide system. This case study offers valuable information for both municipalities and land developers planning new communities around a multifunctional open space and stormwater management system.

Burnsville, MN
Burnsville offers a great example of how to retrofit rain gardens into established suburban neighborhoods - creating neighborhood amenities while reducing runoff volume by an estimated 90 percent. This case study describes the City's rain garden pilot project, which encouraged homeowners on one block to install and maintain the gardens as on-site stormwater controls, while comparing runoff reduction performance to an adjacent block with a traditional curb and gutter system. It illustrates the approaches used to gain residents' "buy-in," as well as the benefits of measuring outcomes to demonstrate success.

Chicago, IL
Stormwater management in Chicago is part of a larger citywide initiative to become "the greenest city in America." Adopting the strategy "we'll do it first," the city has leveraged public-sector pilot tests of green roof technology, rain gardens and downspout disconnect programs, and "green alleys" utilizing porous pavement into large-scale initiatives that boast enthusiastic private sector participation. The city's Green Permit program provides further incentives for developers to adopt new approaches by offering fee waivers and expedited permitting. A major lesson from this case study is that willingness to test new technologies in the public sector can go a long way in promoting private sector participation.

Denver, CO
Both metropolitan Denver and the city proper have long embraced inter-jurisdictional and interagency partnerships as a way to pool financial resources and leverage knowledge to address flood control and stormwater management issues. This case study focuses on these types of partnerships and the benefits they can provide in supporting widespread adoption of innovative stormwater practices and in raising the "knowledge bar."

Kansas City, MO
Kansas City's 10,000 Rain Garden Initiative is just one part of a larger effort to incorporate greener approaches into watershed management and wet weather control strategies. The program focuses on inspiring and educating residents to participate actively in stormwater management and community greening; its catchy name, effective marketing campaign, and focus on on-site treatment, are intended to promote incorporation of the gardens into any site, regardless of how large or small. This case study suggests how other communities - regardless of size - might implement a similar program.

Los Angeles, CA
The Tujunga Wash Greenway and Stream Restoration Project was undertaken as part of a larger plan to revitalize Los Angeles's waterways. The project, which diverts stream flow from a concrete flood control channel to a new, 1.5-mile natural stream bed, was designed to promote groundwater recharge and improve aesthetics. The project incorporates a paved walking/running/biking trail, benches, picnic tables, and native vegetation to create a recreational amenity for residents of an area of Los Angeles previously underserved by parks.

Milwaukee, WI
The Green Milwaukee program is a green initiative that includes incorporating stormwater management practices based on LEED standards, with a citywide goal of reducing runoff by 15 percent. Both on-site controls (green roofs, porous pavement) and community-scale, multi-benefit treatment areas are encouraged. This case study suggests that the success of the program stems from support from the top, citizen and stakeholder input, and an approach that uses tailored solutions to address the unique water quality and wet weather control problems the city faces.

Orlando, FL
The city of Orlando uses retrofits, source controls, and strict redevelopment stormwater requirements to address stormwater pollution. Given Orlando's climate and rainfall, wet ponds have been the traditional method and have long been incorporated into the aesthetic of the community. Citizen support for clean lakes have paved the way for a proactive and scientifically sound approach that matches BMP technology to specific pollutants of concern and site constraints.

Philadelphia, PA
The City of Philadelphia has developed a multi-faceted approach to watershed management that combines drainage infrastructure improvements with stream corridor restoration projects and land-based BMPs. Two of the many innovations that the city has pioneered are a "performance-based" stormwater ordinance, and measurement systems that enable city staff to pinpoint water quality and economic benefits. This case study illustrates the value of measuring and communicating benefits as a means of encouraging more broad-based adoption of stormwater practices.

Portland, OR
The City of Portland has seen great success in implementing a city-wide stormwater BMP program-starting small and making progress one project at a time. The city's strategy is similar to Chicago's: prove that the technology works through pilot testing in public projects then encourage the private sector to follow suit. Now the city's innovative stormwater designs are "business as usual" to the development community as they realize cost savings in addition to meeting requirements. This case study illustrates how BMP technologies can become ingrained into a city's way of doing business, through a system of incentives and rewards.

Santa Monica, CA
Santa Monica's stormwater management program is an integral component of its larger Sustainable City program, which has been in place since 1994. The city emphasizes on-site source controls as well as multi-benefit projects that provide for recreation, habitat enhancement, flood control, and treatment of urban runoff. Public outreach and education is also emphasized. Similar to Philadelphia, Santa Monica also emphasizes performance measurement, with a sustainability "report card" issued each year.

Seattle, WA
The City of Seattle's Natural Drainage System approach to stormwater retrofitting uses highly visible, landscaped street edges to manage stormwater from road surfaces. Several different designs have been implemented and all are considered attractive amenities by residents. This case study suggests that incorporating BMPs into the public right-of-way is both a logical and highly visible strategy for reducing runoff while creating community amenity.

Truckee Meadows Region, NV
The Truckee Meadows Regional Stormwater Quality Management Program case study illustrates how multiple jurisdictions can band together to rapidly develop an extremely comprehensive regional program. Because of the explosive growth in this region, the program incorporates a Low Impact Development manual as well as extensive public education activities directed at homeowners. Municipalities facing similar challenges may enjoy reading this case study.

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