Miami, Florida: Wagner Creek Restoration

City: Miami
Country / US State / US Territory: Florida
Type of Solution: Habitat Restoration
Climate Impact: Seal level rise; Hurricanes and Storm Surge; Extreme Precipitation and Flooding
Social Value Created: Public Education; Community Engagement; Community Wellbeing and Quality of Life; Urban Beautification
Cost: $18.4 million
Funding Source: Public Space Challenge grant

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) partnered with Greater Miami and the Beaches on a project to revitalize Wagner Creek. Over the years, Wagner Creek has been a site of illegal dumping, leaking pipe systems, and stormwater runoff from nearby auto-repair shops, making it one of the most polluted water bodies in Florida. The project will use green infrastructure improve stormwater management in response to flooding from heavy precipitation events and storm surge, as well as to remove pollutants and improve water quality.

Green infrastructure also provides shade, helping to cool the urban environment and mitigate extreme temperatures and the urban heat island effect. Additionally, the project aims to improve community well-being and contribute to urban beautification.

During the design phase of the project, TNC held a public visioning workshop that engaged stakeholders with various backgrounds. Stakeholders identified different services the project could provide and were given stickers to prioritize these services, such as larger/smaller parking lots, parks, tree plantings, and improve water quality for recreation. Then, the University of Miami Landscape Architecture department assisted with developing designs that could be implemented, incorporating climate change projections and other datasets, contributing to the advancement of education. A number of parks are planned as part of the project, and these parks will serve an estimated 100,000 people that live and work in the area.

Fig: Wagner Creek (Photo retrieved from https://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/florida/explore/florida-wagner-creek-restoration.xml)

Fig: Residents prioritizing services during vision workshop (Photo retrieved from https://communitynewspapers.com/brickell/the-nature-conservancy-launches-effort-to-revitalize-the-banks-of-wagner-creek/)

Sources:

Heffernan, J. (November 25, 2017). The Nature Conservancy launches effort to revitalize the banks of Wagner Creek. Miami’s Community Newspapers. Retrieved from https://communitynewspapers.com/brickell/the-nature-conservancy-launches-effort-to-revitalize-the-banks-of-wagner-creek/.

The Nature Conservancy. (November 8, 2017). The Nature Conservancy to revitalize Wagner Creek. Retrieved from https://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/florida/newsroom/florida-revitalizing-miamis-wagner-creek.xml.

The Nature Conservancy. (n.d.). The greening of Wagner Creek. Retrieved from https://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/florida/explore/florida-wagner-creek-restoration.xml.

*Note: This case was documented from an interview with a city practitioner.

Phoenix, Arizona: Resilience AmeriCorps

City: Phoenix
Country / US State / US Territory: Arizona
Type of Solution: Volunteer / Community Group
Climate Impact: Extreme Temperatures and Urban Heat Island Effect; Air Quality; Extreme Precipitation and Flooding
Social Value Created: Social Justice and Equity for Vulnerable Communities; Community Engagement; Public Education; Diverse Transportation; Public Health and Safety; Urban Beautification; Community Wellbeing and Quality of Life

The City of Phoenix is participating in the national Resilience AmeriCorps program. The local program is called Resilient PHX. Volunteers assist low-income communities with projects to build community capacity. Resilient PHX has already completed a number of projects, such as Grandview Message Boards, Grand Avenue Curb Cut/Rain Garden, and Triangle Tree Planting.

Three message boards were installed in the Grandview Neighborhood to improve communication of climate risks, such as the risks of extreme heat in vulnerable communities, specifically low-income residents, elderly residents, and renters.

Another project was the Grand Avenue Curb Cut/Rain Garden. The curb cut/rain garden improves stormwater management to prevent flooding risks during heavy precipitation events. In addition to improved stormwater management, the project created more greenspace for residents and improved aesthetics, walkability, and shade coverage.

Lastly, the Triangle Tree Planting project was a community outreach program that engaged residents in tree planting and taught residents tree maintenance in an effort to mitigate extreme heat and the heat island effect. Trees increase shade coverage, which also contributes the the walkability of the area.

Sources: City of Phoenix. (n.d.). Resilient PHX. Retrieved from https://www.phoenix.gov/volunteer/resilient-phx.

Chicago, Illinois: Pilsen Sustainable Streets

City: Chicago
Country / US State / US Territory: Illinois
Type of Solution: Streets and Parking Lots
Climate Impact: Extreme Temperatures and Urban Heat Island Effect; Extreme Precipitation and Flooding
Social Value Created: Public Health and Safety; Water Security and Quality; Diverse Transportation; Public Education; Public Education and Awareness; Community Wellbeing and Quality of Life

The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) implemented the Pilsen Sustainable Streets project in 2012. The project uses permeable pavement and green infrastructure, such as bioswales and rain gardens, manage projected increases in heavy precipitation and flooding. Stormwater filtration helps to remove pollutants, improving water quality. The City of Chicago has a combined sewer system, making the ability to effectively manage stormwater essential to protecting public health.

Additionally, green infrastructure contributes to improved air quality and urban cooling, counteracting extreme temperatures and the urban heat island effect. The area of vegetative landscapes and tree canopy were increased by 131%, providing more shaded areas, lowering the temperature, and increasing stormwater filtration. Increased shade and lowered temperatures improves comfort of community members and improves public health.

The project also resulted in creation of social value. A pedestrian refuge island was installed in Cermak Road and curb-corner extensions were created to improve pedestrian safety. Community outreach and education is another key feature of the project. Educational kiosks, a walking tour brochure, and a guidebook are available for community members to learn about the sustainable best practices employed by the project. These kiosks are powered by solar and wind energy.

Fig: Example of green infrastructure used in Pilsen Sustainable Streets project (Retrieved from https://www.wightco.com/projects/cermak-road-streetscape)

Fig: LED light pole and educational kiosk (Retrieved from https://iitbuildingscience.wordpress.com/2013/09/09/greenest-sustainable-street-in-america/)

Fig: Walking tour educational brochure (Retrieved from https://www.wightco.com/projects/cermak-road-streetscape)

Sources: The Adaptation Clearinghouse. (May 13, 2016). Pilsen Sustainable Streets (Chicago, Illinois Department of Transportation. Retrieved from http://www.adaptationclearinghouse.org/resources/pilsen-sustainable-streets-chicago-illinois-department-of-transporation.html

The City of Chicago. (October 9, 2012). Transportation: City Unveils “Greenest Street in America” in Pilsen Neighborhood. Retrieved from https://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/cdot/provdrs/conservation_outreachgreenprograms/news/2012/oct/cdot_opens_the_pilsensustainablestreet.html.

Rotenberk, L. (October 8, 2012). The greenest mile: Chicago pushes the limits on sustainable streets. Grist Magazine. Retrieved from https://grist.org/cities/the-greenest-mile-chicago-pushes-the-limits-on-sustainable-streets/