CNT Receives Surdna Foundation Grant to Pilot the Nation’s First Wet Weather “Wetrofit” Service
CHICAGO (October 23, 2012)—The Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT), a Chicago-based nonprofit organization that works nationally to promote more sustainable urban communities, has received grant funding from the Surdna Foundation to pilot wet weather retrofit (“Wetrofit”) services that reduce urban flood damage to homes and businesses. Modeled on the ‘one-stop-shop’ concept developed for building energy retrofits, the service will help cities tackle stormwater challenges at a neighborhood scale.
Recent survey research by CNT suggests that urban municipalities and stormwater utilities face significant challenges in relation to flooding. The survey respondents serve 330 municipalities in the eight Great Lakes states (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin) with a population of approximately 19.7 million people. All received flooding complaints, with 80 percent characterizing the annual number of complaints as medium or large. Stormwater is flooding into people’s backyards, streets, and parking lots; into the interior of buildings through sewer backups; and through the walls of homes and buildings. Seventy-five percent of respondents said they are interested in working with CNT to develop best practice solutions.
“Flooding is expensive and causes misery to home owners and businesses,” said Kathy Tholin, CEO of the Center for Neighborhood Technology. “With increasingly severe weather and overloaded sewer systems, the frequency and cost of flood damage will continue to rise. Effective solutions exist—such as repairing private lateral sewage pipes, installing water permeable paving, and building rain gardens—but communities and property owners need advice and help. This funding will help us help communities.”
“Much of the infrastructure on which this country depends for its economic growth and prosperity is decades old and nearing the end of its life; and government funding available for renewing, replacing, or reinventing these systems is severely constrained. Philanthropy cannot fill the gaps left by the sharp declines in public spending, but we can help with creative solutions,” said Michelle Knapik, Director of Sustainable Environments Program at the Surdna Foundation.
“Early indicators point to a next generation infrastructure that is more decentralized, enables people and communities to be engaged in infrastructure designs and decisions, and that has the potential to support regional economies. More learning is needed—CNT’s water retrofit program is truly ‘next generation’ and we are delighted to be supporting it.”
The project is part of Smart Water for Smart Regions, a two-year initiative that was launched in September 2012 and brings new research, inventive solutions, and regional advocacy focused on water supply and stormwater in the eight Great Lakes states (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin). Other sponsors of the initiative include the Joyce Foundation and State Farm.
Nicole Gotthelf, Center for Neighborhood Technology, email@example.com, 773-269-4029.
Founded in 1978, CNT is a Chicago-based think-and-do tank that works nationally to advance urban sustainability by researching, inventing and testing strategies that use resources more efficiently and equitably. Its programs focus on transportation, energy, water, community development, and climate. Visit www.cnt.org for more information.