America is becoming increasingly and dangerously waterlogged. And it’s not just rural areas. Cities are especially vulnerable to a phenomenon called urban flooding because they are less permeable than their rural counterparts due to concrete surfaces and inadequate infrastructure.  Runoff overflow can turn streets into rivers.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, by the end of the century, floodplains could increase by as much as 45 percent, with climate change causing heavier rains and more storms.

Fixing deteriorated pipes and building more infrastructure will help cities, but it’s expensive and disruptive. Fortunately, cities have another solution that’s cheaper, more sustainable, and can lift up communities and provide jobs: a back-to-nature approach called Green Infrastructure.

Green Infrastructure is, at its core, about utilizing nature to manage stormwater. Pavement is impermeable, but vegetation and soil have an innate ability to manage water before it ever reaches a city’s sewers.

Through strategically planted trees, parks, and wetlands, cities can reduce strain on their sewer systems, and reduce pollution at the same time. The Democracy Collaborative recently released a report recommending the use of green infrastructure as a community-based climate adaptation strategy.

Green Infrastructure is an appealing policy solution because it has benefits far beyond stormwater management: research has long shown that increasing vegetation and green space increases quality of life in a community.

Because green infrastructure is a distributed solution that requires longer-term maintenance but lower upfront costs, it is ideal for worker cooperatives (democratically owned and operated businesses) and social enterprises (nonprofits that have a fee-for-service component) in low-income communities where jobs are needed.

Read the full article about the benefits of green infrastructure by Casey O'Brien at Shareable.