Green Streets Clean Water – Master Planning and Community Engagement
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The County of San Diego, as a participating agency under eight of the San Diego Region's Water Quality Improvement Plans, is developing a Green Streets Master Plan (GSMP) to identify multi-benefit green street opportunities within the population centers of the unincorporated County.

Implementation of the plan will support the County's progress toward achieving target load reductions to comply with the region's Bacteria Total Maximum Daily Load, as well as progress towards addressing other water quality priorities within the region. This presentation will highlight three key components of the County's program: site screening and selection, benefit quantification and ranking, and community engagement.

The goal of the GSMP is to maximize the potential benefit of green streets projects and to prioritize projects based on potential water quality and community benefits. The GSMP will also present the material in a public facing way that provides guidance for developing green streets projects, and recommendations of policy considerations to better pave the way for simplified implementation.

The GSMP uses a two phase prioritization process that 1) focuses project siting efforts on those areas that have the highest pollutant loading and potential for community benefit and 2) ranks and prioritizes potential projects based on a detailed triple bottom line analysis based on environmental, social, and economic factors. Community benefits are focused on environmental justice and supporting underserved communities at a localized scale by improving quality of life, providing engagement opportunities, enriching communities, mitigating impacts of climate change, and encouraging investment. Potential project locations along 1,200 miles of County-maintained roads were thus narrowed down to prioritized catchments which were then assessed individually for feasible project opportunities.

In order to quantify the potential pollutant load reduction of potential projects, a web-hosted water quality modeling tool is being developed that will enable the County to estimate annual wet and dry-weather load reductions as well as volume and peak flow reduction. Using a web-hosted too will allow the County to revise project parameters and update load calculations instantly, resulting in a living water quality component that can be updated as projects are implemented and changed over time.

The County recognizes that Green Street elements are an important community resource, having the potential to provide significant benefit to underserved communities. As part of the GSMP the County is piloting a new public outreach approach that is focused on engaging community groups and stakeholders that may not be activated by traditional public workshop frameworks. The initial public outreach meeting will be supported by the development of program branding, advertising, outreach, and educational material, including web content, informational videos, surveys, flyers, and social media content to provide an introduction of the big picture planning effort, educate stakeholders, present the initial screening and benefit approach, and solicit feedback on community priorities and concerns, which will be incorporated into project screening and BMP selection. A follow-up meeting to present the completed GSMP and identify opportunities for additional participation is planned to coincide with the completion of the work in the Spring of 2022.

Throughout this presentation, attendees will be polled to identify common challenges and solutions related to green street implementation, efforts to effectively balance and weigh multiple benefits and priorities, strategies for stakeholder outreach, and policy-related roadblocks. This dialogue will help the community of program managers, implementers, policy makers, and stakeholders be better equipped to strategically integrate green streets components into future right of way projects.

Publication Summary

  • Geosyntec Authors: Max Dugan
  • All Authors: Sheri McPherson, County of San Diego; Max Dugan
  • Title: Green Streets Clean Water – Master Planning and Community Engagement
  • Event or Publication: CASQA 2021
  • Practice Areas: Water and Natural Resources
  • Citation: Geosyntec practitioners will present at California Stormwater Quality Association Virtual Annual Conference on October 26-27, 2021.
  • Date: Wednesday, Oct. 27 at 9:30-9:55 a.m. PST
  • Location: California
  • Publication Type: Platform Presentation