The Case for Fixing the Leaks: America’s Crumbling Water Infrastructure Wastes Billions of Gallons, Dollars

November 18th, 2013

Great Lakes Region Urged to Adopt Improved Water Management Practices

Every day in America, we lose nearly six billion gallons of expensive, treated water due to crumbling infrastructure. Leaky, aging pipes and outdated systems are wasting 2.1 trillion gallons annually. That’s roughly 16% of our nation’s daily water use. Or, enough to swallow several major American cities whole: 

  • Cover Image IllustrationManhattan under 298 feet of water
  • Minneapolis under 172 feet of water
  • Cleveland under 122 feet of water
  • Milwaukee under 104 feet of water
  • Detroit under 70 feet of water
  • Chicago under 43 feet of water

The Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT), a Chicago-based nonprofit focused on sustainable cities, today released a report titled The Case for Fixing the Leaks, part of a collaborative campaign focused on Great Lakes states, calling for leadership in improved water management.

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Legislation Will Help Make Illinois Water Infrastructure More Resilient

July 23rd, 2014

FlickrCC - Mouin

Illinois Governor Signs Clean Water Initiative


Contact: Ryan Kilpatrick, CNT, 773.269.4041
Josh Mogerman, NRDC, 312-651-7909

CHICAGO (July 23, 2014) – Governor Patrick Quinn signed into law today legislation that will help Illinois cities better prepare for the impacts of climate change.  The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) worked with the legislature and with Governor Quinn’s administration to develop the legislation and worked to support the bill’s passage.

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CNT’s 3rd Urban Sustainability Apps Competition Creates Pocket-Sized Solutions to Big City Issues

July 22nd, 2014

For the third straight year, CNT paired community leaders and mobile developers to create apps that tackle the challenges of urban living. On Saturday, June 28 at TechNexus, 80 participants and guests joined forces at CNT’s 2014 Urban Sustainability Apps Competition to produce 13 apps that connect Chicago residents to crucial information, like environmental data and crime reporting, that can make urban neighborhoods safer and more sustainable.

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This Pavement Can Help Keep Basements Dry

July 21st, 2014

Permeable pavement can be made out of concrete, plastic or stone, but it all works the same way: its porous surface allows water to disperse through the pavement rather than pooling on top. Permeable pavement can be used in parking lots, driveways, and sidewalks, and uses green technology to reduce flooding and pollution in urban environments.

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Flood-Relief Funds: Does Your City Have One?

July 14th, 2014
FlickrCC - Rachel

Photo by Rachel/Flickr Creative Commons License

The economic and social costs of home flooding can be considerable, for homeowners and their communities. Some municipalities have or are launching flood relief incentive programs to help fund the cost of home flood relief systems, such as the installation of an overhead sewer, a measure taken to readjust a home’s plumbing system to be more resilient to sewer back-ups.

CNT researched these programs in Cook County, Illinois, where urban flooding is prevalent and 82% of the county’s one million residential properties are vulnerable to flooding from sewer back-up or water seepage.

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Cutting Pollution through Cargo-Oriented Development

July 11th, 2014

Credit - (c) 2014 Brandon Townley

On June 27, the Chicago Tribune published a lead story about air pollution linked to freight transportation. The story cites new research that found higher than average diesel soot pollution near a Chicago-area rail yard. It’s time that railroads and community leaders start seeing the opportunities to transform freight rail from noisy polluter to sustainable urban revitalizer.

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CNT Press Mentions July 2014

July 7th, 2014

Skyscrapers reach for greener energy goals Chicago Tribune | July 18, 2014
Stormwater Systems as Development Incentives Planetizen | July 8, 2014
Stormwater causes problems for river WBEZ | July 7, 2014
How Green Is Your Neighborhood? New App Reveals Surprises Both Good, BadDNAinfo Chicago | July 7, 2014

CNT Initiative Helps America Become “Rain Ready”

July 2nd, 2014

Action-oriented website, videos, and guides promote better water management in face of climate change

RR Website

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Toledo-Lucas County Adopts Sustainability Strategies to Build a Prosperous Region

June 20th, 2014
FlickrCC - Diana Schnuth (Toledo)

Photo by Diana Schnuth/Flickr Creative Commons License

Like many regions across the country, Ohio’s Toledo-Lucas County grew up around manufacturing. The economic shifts of the past few decades have hit the region hard, and the county has taken an integrated approach to make the region more economically and environmentally sustainable.

The Toledo-Lucas County Sustainability Commission, along with CNT and other project partners like the Brendle Group, created the Going Beyond Green plan as a roadmap to meeting its sustainability goals while growing the local economy. The plan outlines ways to strengthen the region’s natural, social, and economic systems to build a healthier, more sustainable future.

To do this, Going Beyond Green recommends the strategies like:

Natural systems

  • Developing a comprehensive, County-wide plan to protect and improve the quality of fresh water in the County’s rivers and lakes.
  • Creating a Green Infrastructure Portfolio Standard to expand the use of more natural ways to manage water that runs off streets and other paved areas.
  • Developing resources to encourage cities, residents, and businesses to work together and share ideas on water issues.

Social systems

  • Encouraging a “Complete Streets” transportation policy to increase options for biking and walking, and providing access to safe and affordable ways for people to travel around the region.
  • Developing programs to foster the development of strong youth/community leaders.
  • Supporting, enhancing, and expanding the community’s arts and cultural resources and strengthen industries that support individual creativity and innovation.
  • Supporting and growing the Aspire Initiative, which is working to improve education opportunities from cradle to career.

Economic systems

  • Developing programs and policies that encourage connecting neighborhoods to nearby businesses and open spaces with walking and/or biking trails or sidewalks.
  • Expanding and building on the BetterBuildings program, which provides financing for energy efficiency technology.
  • Decreasing the amount of energy businesses and governments use while increasing the amount of energy they get from renewable sources such as solar and geothermal.
  • Developing tools and programs to encourage more people to ride public transportation.
  • Aligning programs aimed at growing job skills for residents with current and emerging needs of the region’s primary industry clusters, with a particular focus on developing high-skilled careers.
  • Enhancing job training to preserve local manufacturing industries while also helping the region remain globally competitive as it transitions to industries such as advanced manufacturing technologies.

CNT provided research, analysis, and community facilitation to develop the plan’s stormwater and infrastructure strategies. The plan includes one of CNT’s hallmark stormwater management tools, the Green Infrastructure Portfolio Standard, which provides a framework for cities to incrementally increase the amount of green infrastructure used to manage rainwater. In addition, our Housing + Transportation (H+T®) Affordability Index was used to develop metrics for transportation goals.

Going Beyond Green can serve as a model for other regions like Toledo-Lucas County that are budget constrained and seek to become more sustainable while also growing jobs and addressing immediate infrastructure needs.

Affordable Housing Near Transit Will Help California Combat Climate Change

June 20th, 2014
FlickrCC - Frederick Dennstedt

Photo by Frederick Dennstedt/Flickr Creative Commons License

The State of California will devote billions of dollars in new cap-and-trade revenue to fund projects intended to further curb climate impacts. In addition to investments in high-speed rail and public transit, millions of dollars will support affordable transit-oriented development (TOD). CNT research helped make the case that building affordable housing near transit can significantly reduce GHG from auto emissions.

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CNT’s Wetrofit Service is a Rain Ready Solution for Your Home

June 19th, 2014

Heavy rains can leave basements and streets underwater, so it’s time to get rain ready.

CNT’s Wetrofit® service offers solutions for property owners and municipalities to help protect homes from urban flooding.

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