Scaling-up Green Stormwater Infrastructure in Underserved Communities Across Greater Chicago

Chicago, IL

Under the umbrella of Resilient Infrastructure for Sustainable Communities (RISC), CIS, supported by The Delta Institute, led the writing of a report that assessed the viability of using a community-based partnership (CBP) to scale-up green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) across underserved areas in the Greater Chicago region for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD).

Project Scope

  • Research and Analyses
  • Stakeholder Engagement
  • Scale up of GSI Program
  • Equity Considerations
  • Water quality and ecosystem health
  • Private and Public Sector Partners
  • Legal and Financial Structure
  • Structure for Measures of Success

MWRD is a nationally recognized regional utility that provides wastewater and stormwater services to the City of Chicago and 128 municipalities in Cook County. MWRD has led a variety of green initiatives over the last several decades that have reduced its sewer overflows by 85% in the last 35 years. MWRD has ambitious goals for the future that will eliminate overflows through a combination of deep tunnel storage and GSI. To that end, along with other key programs already in process, MWRD is actively exploring a large-scale CBP that will expand GSI in underserved areas.


The Project Team developed a “A Blueprint to Scale Up Green Stormwater Infrastructure in Underserved Communities Across the Great Lakes Region.”

The Project Team’s work comprised of improving MWRD’s public engagement across neighboring communities, assessing improvements in risk sharing with a private partner; reviewing delivery and cost surety for GSI installation and maintenance; maximizing pricing efficiencies by combining economies of scale and increasing competition in the contractor marketplace; and quality-certifying projects by a contracted third-party. Finally, the Project Team also analyzed alternative financing structures and capital sources for investors looking for greater surety and predictability of their investment.

This project is relevant for generating environmental justice outcomes. This project is also a framework to bring together a large number of local partners that collectively work to make their neighborhoods green and climate resilient.


Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago
Great Lakes Protection Fund


2022 – 2023