Green Infrastructure

Improving our resources


In the Great Lakes region, urban stormwater runoff is a major source of water pollution. Stormwater runoff negatively impacts water quality by flushing contaminants from impervious surfaces into waterways. It also indirectly reduces water quality by overwhelming combined sewer systems during rain and snowmelt events, causing billions of gallons of combined sewer overflow (CSO) to enter the Great Lakes annually. 

As part of our applied research program, Cleveland Botanical Garden is investigating the potential for vacant urban land to improve Great Lakes water quality. With support from the Great Lakes Protection Fund, Cleveland Botanical Garden has undertaken a 12-month planning project to explore the potential reuse of vacant urban land as green infrastructure (GI) to benefit Great Lakes water quality.

As part of this project, we are analyzing input from water treatment, city planning, economic development, and urban greening professionals from 14 Great Lakes cities. We are also examining urban GI projects, vacant land distributions, existing barriers to implementation of GI, stormwater management needs, and environmental justice concerns. At the conclusion of our analysis, we will describe the process and potential of converting vacant land to green infrastructure in the Great Lakes region and will suggest future areas for policy improvement and research.