The City of Tucson would like your input on a proposed program and fee to provide additional stormwater management services in the community. A survey follows the program description below. Header photo by Wheat Design Group.
The City of Tucson is seeking to deal with a number of related challenges, including:
- Lack of funding for maintaining trees and landscapes on neighborhood streets
- Loss of trees across the city, which makes the city hotter and reduces air quality
- Flooding on neighborhood streets, which reduces emergency vehicle access and puts vulnerable residents at risk
To address these issues, the Mayor and Council is considering a proposal to collect a fee of approximately $.75 to $1.50 on city residents' monthly utility bill, which would raise about $3 million annually to build and maintain projects throughout the city that capture stormwater runoff from streets and parking lots, and divert it into vegetated water harvesting areas. These kinds of projects are called "green stormwater infrastructure," or GSI. The proposal would:
- Provide a funding source for maintaining hundreds of existing GSI features in city neighborhoods
- Support growing more trees and plants on streets, and in parks and public areas using stormwater as a primary water source
- Address flooding on neighborhood streets
The Green Stormwater Infrastructure program would have the following additional benefits:
- Put rain/stormwater runoff to beneficial use irrigating plants
- Reduce stormwater pollution
- Shade and cool streets, sidewalks, and bikeways
- Beautify neighborhoods
- Provide an affordable alternative to building and maintaining new underground stormwater infrastructure
To view the full proposal, click here.
This section shows examples of the types of projects the program would fund. Examples include projects that have already been installed here in Tucson, as well as those have been built in other desert cities.
Curb cuts can be used to allow rain runoff from streets and parking lots to enter landscaped areas along streets and pathways.
Tucson Association of Realtors parking lot. Photo by Sandra Bolduc, Pima County Regional Flood Control District
Parks and open space can be used to collect large amounts of stormwater runoff to reduce neighborhood flooding, while creating "rain gardens" that provide passive irrigation for trees and other plants.
Public park in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Photo by Watershed Management Group.
Parking lots can be retrofitted with swales and basins that collect stormwater runoff, in turn irrigating trees that provide shade.
YMCA in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo by HDR.
These examples from Tucson’s Northwest Neighborhood show how neighborhood streets can be retrofit with curb extensions and vegetated basins to slow traffic, reduce local flooding, and create shade for pedestrians and bicyclists.
These kinds of improvements can be added to Bike Boulevard projects that are planned along many streets through the Tucson Delivers: Parks + Connections bond package.
Northwest Neighborhood, Tucson. Top photo by Dan Dorsey.
20-30 Club Park has water harvesting features that drain water from a neighborhood street where water used to pond.
Photo by Laura Mielcarek, Wheat Design Group
The University of Arizona installed this water harvesting landscape along Lester Street, which collects rainfall runoff from buildings and a parking lot.
Photo by Grant McCormick, University of Arizona
Malvern Plaza is a site in Broadmoor-Broadway Village Neighborhood where asphalt was removed from a portion of large intersection to create a small park. Curb cuts capture stormwater runoff from neighborhood streets, which irrigated trees that shade this popular neighborhood gathering site.
The annual budget of $3 million for the Green Stormwater Infrastructure program is proposed to be used as followed:
Construction - $2,300,000
$2,300,00 - constructing new GSI features across the City, using the following priorities:
Adding GSI features to projects that are already planned, such as:
- Parks projects in the Tucson Delivers: Parks + Connections bond package approved by voters. Example: Adding stormwater harvesting, vegetated medians and islands to a park; or community center parking lot already planned for resurfacing or reconstruction
- Bicycle boulevard projects in Tucson Delivers: Parks + Connections bond package. Example: Adding stormwater harvesting behind the curb or within traffic calming features (traffic circles, curb extensions, medians) along planned bicycle boulevards
- Flood control projects planned by Pima County Regional Flood Control District. Example: Adding trees and vegetation, and small-scale water harvesting basins to a vacant neighborhood lot that is being turned into a stormwater retention basin
Using GSI to add trees to areas in the city where the tree canopy is lowest
Adding GSI where it can best reduce flooding in neighborhoods
Adding GSI where it benefits the most vulnerable people in the community (e.g. using the state’s information on heat vulnerable populations)
Administration - $400,000
$400,000 – equipment, materials, and program administration of five staff – including 1 program manager, 1 maintenance manager, 1 outreach coordinator, 0.5 senior project engineer, 0.5 urban landscape manager, 1 junior project engineer
Maintenance - $300,000
$300,000 – maintenance of existing and new City-owned GSI features
The City has identified approximately 300 in-street, vegetated traffic circles, medians, and curb extensions that the City has installed in neighborhoods over the past 20 years, and which capture stormwater or could be retrofitted to capture stormwater. In most cases, these features have not been maintained by the City, but have been made the responsibility of the neighborhoods. In the first few years, the majority of maintenance funds would go to retrofitting and maintaining these assets to improve their function and aesthetics. As the program funds construction of new GSI features, maintenance funds would also cover care of these new assets.