Like many aging Midwestern cities, Toledo is burdened with the costs of separating combined sewers and the associated water quality issues. Efforts had been made by the Toledo-Lucas County Sustainability Commission, a regional 30-member multi-sectoral collaborative, to raise awareness of and support for green infrastructure as a cost-effective alternative to gray infrastructure for stormwater management. Despite a well-attended regional forum on the value of green infrastructure, and several local large-scale green infrastructure projects with compelling pre/post runoff data, there was not sufficient support to pursue a regional green infrastructure strategy.
The Toledo-Lucas County Sustainability Commission (TLCSC), in collaboration with Project for Public Spaces and Livability Solutions' designated technical assistance provider (Center for Neighborhood Technology,) developed a regime of assistance that would help stakeholders understand how green infrastructure could be a cost-effective and meaningful long-term strategy for Toledo's stormwater management. Greater public support for green infrastructure would ease implementation of a city-county green infrastructure plan.
Prior to the on-site training, Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) conducted a webinar for a group of local stakeholders which included local government officials, local university partners, community members and Toledo-Lucas County Sustainability Commission staff. The webinar explained the costs and benefits of using green infrastructure to mitigate the need for traditional gray infrastructure such as sewers and detention basins. The webinar also explained how to use the Green Values Calculator to help Toledo prioritize green infrastructure solutions.
During the on-site workshop CNT presented to engineers, city officials, and interested citizens a how-to process for stormwater management planning. CNT also participated in a TLCSC workshop (Green Infrastructure 2: More Math, More Money) to train a broad-base of regional stakeholders on the use of CNT's GI tools.
CNT then worked with a TLCSC working group to identify opportunities and barriers to implementing GI tools in the local context. CNT identified two sites in Toledo-Lucas County that would benefit from using green infrastructure for stormwater management and used the Green Values Calculator tool to identify lifecycle cost-savings and benefits.
The technical assistance prompted the formation of a Green Stormwater Infrastructure Task Force to organize training sessions on tools presented in the workshop and visit sites with potential for green infrastructure. The Task Force arranged for free technical assistance to the City of Toledo. The assistance included a high-level code and ordinance review.
Toledo-Lucas County, in 2014, publish its first regional sustainability plan.
The Green Infrastructure Task Force, as of 2016, continues to evaluate vacant parcels in Lucas County for possible green infrastructure project implementation.
In 2016, the TLCSC in collaboration with The University of Toledo, Vistula Management, United North, and North Toledo Community members received a $60k grant from US EPA to develop a plan for incorporating green stormwater infrastructure into low income, multi-family housing sites.