Published In

Environmental Science and Policy

Document Type


Publication Date



Environmental planning


Green stormwater infrastructure (GI) is gaining traction as a viable complement to traditional “gray” infrastructure in cities across the United States. As cities struggle with decisions to replace deteriorating stormwater infrastructure in the face of looming issues such as population growth and climate change, GI may offer a costeffective, efficient, and sustainable approach. However, decision makers confront challenges when integrating GI within city plans, including uncertainties around GI capacity and maintenance, resistance to collaboration across city governance, increasingly inflexible financing, accounting practices that do not incorporate the multiple values of GI, and difficulties in incorporating ecological infrastructure into stormwater management. This paper presents an ecosystem services framework for assessing the context-specific needs of decision makers, while considering the strengths and limitations of GI use in urban stormwater management. We describe multiple dimensions of the planning system, identify points of intervention, and illustrate two applications of our framework – Durham, North Carolina and Portland, Oregon (USA). In these case studies, we apply our ecosystem services framework to explicitly consider tradeoffs to assist planning professionals who are considering implementation of GI. We conclude by offering a research agenda that explores opportunities for further evaluations of GI design, implementation, and maintenance in cities.


This work was authored as part of the Contributor's official duties as an Employee of the United States Government and is therefore a work of the United States Government. In accordance with 17 U.S.C. 105, no copyright protection is available for such works under U.S. Law.



Persistent Identifier