Green Infrastructure Planning to Empower Communities

With the recently adopted Community Greening Plan, Capital Region Water has committed to the implementation of green stormwater infrastructure in Harrisburg. The plan is empowering residents to partner in stormwater management.

Like many cities with combined sewers, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania is developing a long-term plan to reduce sewer overflows into its river. With its recently adopted "Community Greening Plan" [pdf], Capital Region Water has committed to the implementation of green stormwater infrastructure throughout Harrisburg—including transforming public places such as parks and greenways—as part of this stormwater management strategy.

Yet, faced with similar stormwater management issues as other water utilities, Capital Region Water is taking a notably different approach to implementing green stormwater infrastructure—one that empowers Harrisburg’s residents to suggest project locations and partner in their implementation. This plan is based on several exciting conversations with city residents, businesses, and local organizations, and is the start of many more.

Capital Region Water worked closely with the city of Harrisburg and citizens throughout the planning process. A group of "community ambassadors," made up of representatives of the local community, provided input into the plan and, in the process, became well versed in green stormwater infrastructure. Capital Region Water took the community ambassadors to see built green stormwater infrastructure projects in Lancaster and Philadelphia, including planted corner bumpouts to collect street runoff, swales in parking lots, rain gardens next to schools, and man-made wetlands. Getting to see the Lancaster and Philadelphia projects in person gave the community ambassadors a better understanding of how this infrastructure works and how it could transform the look of Harrisburg.

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