Municipal Handbooks


​A series of handbooks developed by EPA for use by municipalities to assist and support implementation of green infrastructure. Each handbook addresses a different topic of interest to municipal officials.

Additional Resources

Managing Wet Weather with Green Infrastructure Municipal Handbooks

Funding Options

Securing adequate, sustainable sources of funding for managing wet weather presents a significant challenge for towns and cities across the United States, and financial constraints frequently hinder the implementation of effective programs and practices at the local level. This situation is often especially true for green infrastructure approaches, not necessarily because they are more expensive than traditional management approaches (in fact often they are less expensive), but because they do not necessarily fit existing funding frameworks. In many cases, green infrastructure is simply another item on the community “to-do” list that can not (and will not) be addressed without developing alternative funding mechanisms.

Fortunately, a growing number of communities have overcome financial barriers with funding strategies that are sustainable and effective.


Green Infrastructure Retrofit Policies

Existing development, especially in urbanized and urbanizing areas, is responsible for currently degraded water quality and stream conditions. Changes in land cover and the increased imperviousness of the urban environment have resulted in larger volumes of runoff traveling at faster velocities. This has caused serious streambank erosion and has compromised aquatic habitat. Many of these areas were developed without adequate stormwater controls and must be addressed if urban streams are to be restored and water quality is to be improved nationwide. It should be noted that most stormwater regulations are intended to limit the increases in pollution associated with new development, or to curb flooding, but do not specifically address the hydrologic modifications associated with runoff from existing development.

Retrofits to stormwater infrastructure will be necessary to reduce runoff and pollution, but the capital investment is daunting. While this needed investment presents a significant economic burden, it also presents an opportunity to re-evaluate the most efficient way to invest in infrastructure and environmental programs.


Green Streets

By design and function, urban areas are covered with impervious surfaces: roofs, roads, sidewalks, and parking lots. Although all contribute to stormwater runoff, the effects and necessary mitigation of the various types of surfaces can vary significantly. Of these, roads and travel surfaces present perhaps the largest urban pollution sources and also one of the greatest opportunities for green infrastructure use.

Roads present many opportunities for green infrastructure application. One principle of green infrastructure involves reducing and treating stormwater close to its source. Urban transportation right-ofways integrated with green techniques are often called “green streets”. Green streets provide a source control for a main contributor of stormwater runoff and pollutant load.


Rainwater Harvesting Policies

From the last half of the 20th century, the U.S. has enjoyed nearly universal access to abundant supplies of potable water. But as witnessed by the recent serious and sustained droughts in the Southeast and Southwest, this past luxury is not something that can be expected for the long term. Future population growth will exert more demand on water systems while climate change is predicted to decrease available supplies because of decreased snow pack and drier regional climatic patterns. The U.S. has been identified as a country that faces imminent water shortages and a Government Accountability Office (GAO) survey found that water managers in 36 states anticipate water shortages during the first two decades of this century. These challenges will require a more sustainable approach to using water resources, looking at not only how much water is used, but also the quality of water needed for each use.

Rainwater harvesting, collecting rainwater from impervious surfaces and storing it for later use, is a technique that has been used for millennia. It has not been widely employed in industrialized societies that rely primarily on centralized water distribution systems, but with limited water resources and stormwater pollution recognized as serious problems and the emergence of green building, the role that rainwater harvesting can play for water supply is being reassessed.


Incentive Mechanisms

Incentives are a creative tool local governments can use to encourage the use of green infrastructure practices on private property. Incentive mechanisms allow municipalities to act beyond the confines of their regulatory authorities to improve wet weather management on properties that may not fall under updated stormwater requirements or other state and municipal policies, codes and ordinances. These incentives can be applied to both new developments and existing developments. For new development projects, incentives can be incorporated into the development processes, such as building permits and stormwater permits or other development codes and requirements, to creatively encourage green infrastructure. In already developed areas, incentives can be designed to encourage private property owners to retrofit their properties to include green infrastructure practices where they do not already exist. Examples of local incentive mechanisms can include stormwater fee discounts, expedited permitting, grants, rebate and installation financing, and awards and recognition.

Incentive mechanisms can be easy to implement and afford local decision makers the flexibility and creativity to tailor programs to specific priorities or to particular geographic areas in a community.