At a Glance
Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District supported work between local non-profit Catholic Charities and private developer Greenprint Partners to install green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) in a low-to-moderate income community, resulting in more equitable distribution of incentive program dollars.
St. Louis’ combined sewer system regularly overflows, sending polluted stormwater and raw sewage into the Mississippi and River Des Peres watersheds. To combat this, the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District (MSD) created grant and incentive programs to help local landowners install GSI on their private property. However, even with these programs in place, low-to-moderate income communities had lower participation due to lack of awareness and the upfront capital and technical expertise needed. Developers who help bridge these gaps enable utilities to achieve a more equitable distribution of program dollars by securing participation from organizations like schools, affordable housing developments, and nonprofits. For example, one local non-profit, Catholic Charities of St. Louis, is in a neighborhood that is in the 95th and 87th percentile for cancer and respiratory hazards respectively. In addition, 41% of the neighborhood is low-income, and most of Catholic Charities’ residents are either elderly adults living in assisted living communities or women recovering from substance abuse. Catholic Charities was well positioned to participate in the program but due to lack of awareness, upfront capital, and technical expertise had not taken advantage.
Greenprint Partners facilitated an open dialogue with Catholic Charities’ staff and site users. An opportunity was developed that helped MSD simultaneously reduce stormwater overflows and improve the mental and physical health of Catholic Charities’ at-risk residents. Greenprint Partners used their unique, Benefits-Driven Design service to maximize the co-benefits (e.g. cleaner air, job creation, less crime, etc.) that were most important to the local community. Workshops and surveys empowered stakeholders to prioritize the site improvements they wanted to see. Catholic Charities' community concluded that neighborhood beautification, increased community pride, and improved mental and physical health were most important. These priorities informed the final design of six rain gardens and permeable pavement, whose customized designs such as increased green space and native plants helped deliver the desired co-benefits. This is an example of how a private developer can help bridge financial and technical gaps, enabling utilities to achieve a more equitable distribution of incentive dollars by securing participation from organizations like schools, affordable housing developments, nonprofits, and more.
- Greened 2.63 acres, increasing permeable surface area
- Manages 675,895 gallons of stormwater annually
- Added green space for exercise, stress relief
- Enhanced local beauty, local pride
A special feature of the project is its centralized final point of stormwater capture. Linking all rooftop run-off with the site's multiple rainscaping elements at one point, Catholic Charities enables visitors to witness the synergy of many stormwater best management practices working in harmony together.
Who Should Consider?
Utilities interested in equitably expanding GSI projects, maximizing co-benefits to underserved populations, saving time and resources via private partner collaboration.