“City-Wide Green First Plan” Released for Public Comment

green-first-planOn December 2, 2016, the City of Pittsburgh & Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) released their “City-Wide Green First Plan” for public comment.  Those two entities, along with four consulting teams, worked to create both an innovative and cost-effective plan that would meet the Consent Decree with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reduce combined sewer overflows and improve local water quality.  After analyzing 13,700 acres, the plan outlines how the City will manage 1,835 acres of green infrastructure over the next 20 years.

The City, Allegheny County, PWSA, and ALCOSAN are all working jointly to determine how to expand green infrastructure while reducing the cost and fees to do so.  Enviro Social Capital, an initiative of Green Building Alliance, sees Pay for Success as a solution to this challenge.  If the City and PWSA have additional partners who are willing to pay to realize secondary outcomes of green infrastructure, such as reduced flooding and increased property values, then PWSA’s customers will only be paying for part of the solution rather than the whole thing.  Additionally, regardless of the number of stacked outcomes in a Pay for Success deal, ratepayer dollars will only be spent if the outcome is successful.  That is how “Pay for Success” got its name ­– investors provide upfront risk capital to begin the project and public entities pay it back if, and only if, green infrastructure proves (through rigorous measurement) to reduce combined sewer overflows.

Enviro Social Capital was excited to see Pay for Success actually referenced several times in the report and hopes to continue discussions with PWSA and the City in order to use our expertise to help create the most impactful and cost-effective Pay for Success opportunity possible.

A clear advocate of the plan, Mayor Bill Peduto said, “Going ‘green first’ means we can meet our regulatory requirements while also reducing local flooding, decreasing basement backups, improving the resiliency of our communities to disaster during extreme weather events, and enhance economic development in the City.”

Enviro Social Capital at GBA is proud to be living and working in a city that strives to find sustainable and equitable solutions for our shared challenges, while inspiring and leading other towns in a similar direction.

From December 2, 2016, the report is open for public comment for 60 days.  The entire report (all 531 pages of it!!) can be found at: http://pgh2o.com/City-Wide-Green-Plan and comments can be sent to: greeninfrastructure@pgh2o.com.

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