Illinois EPA Convenes Group to Develop Stormwater Management Standards for the State

Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) is moving forward this week with its plan to make green infrastructure a mainstay of stormwater management programs across the state. IEPA has convened a working group of stormwater policy stakeholders, including CNT, to devise statewide performance standards for stormwater management. At the working group’s inaugural meeting on March 29th, CNT Stormwater Program Manager Ryan Wilson will present a review of exemplary state programs from across the country that already have stormwater performance standards in place.

Communities that use water efficiently are communities that are more economically and environmentally resilient. That’s why effective use of our water resources is a cornerstone of CNT’s work.

Green infrastructure, or GI, uses natural systems to infiltrate stormwater into the ground where it falls, helping reduce the amount of stormwater runoff that enters sewers and streams. Rain gardens and pervious pavement are typical examples of green infrastructure. Studies, including CNT’s own research, have shown that green infrastructure is as effective as traditional grey infrastructure—gutters, pipes, and sewers—and much cheaper and faster to implement. CNT advocates that green infrastructure play a much bigger role in stormwater management alongside traditional practices.

The May 29th meeting in Springfield, Illinois, marks the implementation phase of one of the five recommendations made in a 2010 study commissioned by the Illinois General Assembly. The study, conducted by the University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, CNT, and the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant Program, outlined how the state can gradually implement green infrastructure by watershed and region. In addition to developing stormwater management performance standards through the newly created working group, the study recommended:

  • Initiating a grant program to financially support communities’ implementation of GI projects,
  • Devising a GI portfolio standard that would set incremental, multi-year implementation targets for watersheds or counties,
  • Revising state revolving loan criteria to prioritize GI projects within water infrastructure financing, and
  • Working aggressively with communities and counties to educate officials and developers on the effective use of GI practices.

“With Illinois struggling financially and summer storms right around the corner, this is a critical time to capitalize on green infrastructure’s cost-saving, ecologically effective solutions to devastating floods,” said CNT Water Director Harriet Festing. “We’re thrilled to work with Illinois EPA and other group members to bring green infrastructure and its benefits to communities.”