Financing Green Infrastructure: Lessons from the Chesapeake Bay Watershed

Communities in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and across the nation are deploying green infrastructure to manage stormwater and provide economic, environmental, and social benefits for residents. Large cities such as Baltimore, Washington, and Philadelphia are leaders in the use of green infrastructure to 1) fulfill regulatory mandates (i.e., reducing combined sanitary-storm sewer overflows, or CSO) and 2) achieve broader community objectives (i.e., improving health and addressing climate change). For smaller communities, lack of financial resources can be a significant barrier to employing green infrastructure solutions.

This report provides a guide for decision makers in small to mid-sized communities on how to pay for green infrastructure. It covers green infrastructure definitions and benefits, the monetary value of benefits provided, available funding sources and financing techniques, and how to develop a funding and financing strategy for green infrastructure investment. The report draws on interviews and research of green infrastructure applications by communities inside and outside the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Several case studies drawing from ESI’s research on the economic value of protected open space and stormwater infrastructure are included alongside examples of green infrastructure practices, financing techniques, and key takeaways from communities that have effectively implemented green infrastructure.

ESI Senior Advisor David Rouse served as project lead for this white paper.

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