Replumbing Cities

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Principal Investigator: 
Kristina Hopkins

Leadership required to transform cities into sustainable and resilient systems will ultimately be driven by the society’s ability to understand and manage for resilience, providing infrastructure that allows cities to bounce back from extreme events. Green infrastructure is one management approach that has been touted as a way to enhance resilience. Green infrastructure manages stormwater through the installation of practices that use vegetation and soils to infiltrate and filter polluted runoff at the source. However, many financial, social, and institutional barriers prevent the installation of green infrastructure at the city scale. This project will advance the field of urban system science by investigating how the historical evolution of city governance influences contemporary responses to stormwater challenges. It uses a comparative case study approach to inventory existing green infrastructure and identify socio-political drivers that facilitate management transitions. The comparative city set comprises three cities that span an infrastructure continuum, including Pittsburgh, PA, and Phoenix, AZ, at the gray end of the spectrum and Portland, OR, at the green end. Socio-political drivers will be identified by synthesizing existing datasets to characterize temporal changes in city governance structure, departmental administrative roles, and local policy reforms that create funding mechanisms to support green infrastructure implementation. This project will advance socio-environmental synthesis by identifying policies and financial investments that catalyze transitions towards resilient, stormwater management systems. Results will advance the field of urban ecology and contribute to actionable policy by identifying governance structures and mechanisms that support sustainable management strategies.

Associated SESYNC Researcher(s): 
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