Not only will we have the funding needed to repair crucial infrastructure, we will be able to beautify and strengthen our community. A stormwater utility will help us maintain green infrastructures like rain gardens, permeable pavers, bioswales, and more. These elements have co-benefits, including:
Healthier Streams, Rivers, and Wildlife
Rainfall and snowmelt pick up whatever chemical compounds and/or trash lie on pavement and flow directly into our creeks, streams and river. A stormwater utility could help us restore the natural hydrologic function we disrupted with pavement and other impervious surfaces, and would slow, cleanse and recharge groundwater once again. This reversal would not only benefit people, but also the animals and fish that rely on those water sources.
A stormwater utility could help Peoria afford more street sweeping, preventing flooding from pollution-clogged inlets. Also, green infrastructure could help absorb and retain water, lessening the occurrence of flooding.
Positive Economic Impact
We could increase surrounding property values by improving public rights-of-way and repurposing vacant/blighted lots. We could also spur reinvestment and increase economic activity, including tourism, for nearby businesses by creating green spaces and roads that encourage multiple types of transportation.
A portion of the stormwater utility could be used for green infrastructure maintenance, which would provide a scale and scope of design and construction work that could be met by local companies. Green infrastructure could create a demand for workforce training and education to build capacity for these public and private jobs.
Peaceful Green Spaces
Using green infrastructure (bump-outs, bioswales, green streets, rain gardens) to address CSOs and stormwater runoff will beautify areas of town, especially parts of older neighborhoods. Studies have shown that green spaces are linked to improvements in mental health, stress reduction and can foster community.
We could create landscape designs that maintain sight lines, define public and private spaces, control access and encourage residents to spend time outside interacting and building stronger community ties.