Green Infrastructure Plan for Illinois

Green Infrastructure for Clean Water Act

Public Act 96-26, the Green Infrastructure for Clean Water Act, required the Illinois EPA to assess and evaluate using green infrastructure to help manage stormwater in Illinois. Illinois EPA worked with the University of Illinois – Chicago to undertake research to assess effective best management practices, green infrastructure standards and institutional and policy frameworks to support the development of a Green Infrastructure Plan for Illinois. The University, Professor Martin Jaffe specifically, provided a report to the Agency that outlines recommendations based on their research of this topic. The Agency received these recommendations and provided a report to the Illinois General Assembly June 2010.

What is green infrastructure?

Green infrastructure means any storm water management technique or practice employed with the primary goal of preserving, restoring, or mimicking natural hydrology. Green infrastructure includes, but is not limited to, methods of using soil and vegetation to promote soil percolation, evapotranspiration, and filtration. Green infrastructure includes the preservation and restoration of natural landscape features, such as forests, floodplains, headwaters, and wetlands. Green infrastructure also includes rain gardens, permeable pavements, green roofs, infiltration planters, trees and tree boxes, and rainwater harvesting for non-potable uses, such as toilet flushing and landscape irrigation. (Public Act 96-26)

Green Infrastructure Planning Process and Report

We had the opportunity to rethink things and possibly use the state revolving loan fund to help fund green infrastructure implementation. It could extend beyond traditional practices to provide incentives/assistance for green infrastructure.

Illinois EPA and its partners developed a report that reviewed the latest available scientific research and institutional knowledge to evaluate and document the following:

  1. The nature and extent of urban storm water impacts on water quality in watersheds in Illinois;
  2. Potential urban storm water management performance standards to address flooding, water pollution, stream erosion, habitat quality, and the effectiveness of green infrastructure practices to achieve such standards;
  3. The prevalence of green infrastructure use in Illinois;
  4. The costs and benefits of green versus grey infrastructure;
  5. Existing and potential new urban storm water management regulatory programs and methods and feasibility of integrating a state program with existing and potential regional and local programs in Illinois;
  6. Findings and recommendations for adopting an urban storm water management regulatory program in Illinois which includes performance standards and encourages the use of green infrastructure to achieve those standards; and
  7. The feasibility and consequences of devoting 20 percent of the Water Revolving Fund to green infrastructure, water and energy efficiency improvements, and other environmentally innovative activities on a long-term basis.

The report provided recommendations for Illinois regarding the:

  1. Adoption of comprehensive storm water management rules;
  2. Implementation of a storm water permit fee program adequate to support the adoption and implementation of state storm water regulations;
  3. Establishment of a statewide standard for storm water management programs in order to transition toward the use of green infrastructure as the predominant storm water management strategy;
  4. Rules on the distribution of money from the Water Revolving Fund; and
  5. Establish new criteria which prioritize the use of green infrastructure in all projects involving storm water management and water efficiency.

Related Documents

Public Act 96-26, the Green Infrastructure for Clean Water Act

June 2010 Recommendations to Governor and General Assembly

January 2010 GI Stakeholder Meeting at IEPA