Green Stormwater Infrastructure

 

Storm to Shade (S2S) is the City of Tucson's Green Stormwater Infrastructure program.  The Storm to Shade program was approved by the Mayor & Council n 2019 to install new Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) on public property throughout the City of Tucson as well as maintain new and (select) existing GSI.  

The Storm to Shade program is funded through a small fee on every City of Tucson Water Utility bill within City limits.  This fee is assessed based on customer's water consumption rate at 13 cents per Ccf (about $1 per month for the average residential customer).  This fee generates approximately $300,000 per ward, per year to be spent on new GSI projects in each of the six City of Tucson wards and an additional $300,000 per year that the Mayor's office can allocate to new GSI projects at their discretion. 

Why Green Stormwater Infrastructure?

  • Tucson is the third fastest warming city in the United States.  Adding trees provides shade that, helps cool the environment and mitigate urban heat island effect.
  • The Southwest is experiencing a 20-plus year drought.  GSI puts rain/stormwater runoff to beneficial use irrigating plants conserving precious (potable) water resources.
  • Diverting stormwater off streets and roofs reduces minor in-street flooding, extending the life of the pavement.
  • Plants help to filter out stormwater and air pollutants.
  • Native vegetation creates new habitat for wildlife and supports pollinators.
  • Tree canopy increases options for recreation and mobility by creating shaded corridors.
  • Green space promotes wellness and quality of life.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Frequently Asked Questions 

What is green stormwater infrastructure?

Green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) describes practices that use natural systems (or engineered systems that mimic or use natural processes) to capture, clean, and infiltrate stormwater; shade and cool surfaces and buildings; reduce flooding; create wildlife habitat; and provide other services that improve environmental quality and communities’ quality of life.

The Storm to Shade Program generally defines individual GSI features as vegetated areas of stormwater retention and detention that collect runoff from surrounding hardscapes and are inclusive of an inlet and overflow structure; all earthwork, soils and soil cover, rock, and the vegetation growing within; and any physical structure that separates it from its surroundings.

Where is Storm to Shade installing new GSI? 

Storm to Shade seeks to leverage existing planned park and connection improvement projects (such as those funded by proposition 407) as opportunities to add GSI.  Additionally, S2S selects sites not associated with existing planned improvements in locations that are high priority and would provide a direct noticeable benefit to the public.  Storm to Shade uses a tool called the Tree Equity Score (TES) to prioritize investment in areas where projects are needed the most.  The TES tool scores geographic regions based on tree canopy and surface temperature as well as income, employment, race, age and health factors.  Learn what the Tree Equity Score is where you live at: https://climateaction.tucsonaz.gov/pages/milliontrees-tree-equity .

Who maintains GSI installed by Storm to Shade?

The Storm to Shade Program will hire specially trained contractors and engage City of Tucson maintenance staff, all who are specially trained to care for GSI features, to provide seasonally determined maintenance services outlined in the City of Tucson GSI Maintenance Manual.

Can Storm to Shade install GSI on my property?

Storm to Shade does not install GSI on private property.  S2S funds are used for public GSI on City-owned property such as parks, roadways and rights-of-way.  For more information on how to apply for water conservation rebates to install water harvesting features on private property, visit: https://www.tucsonaz.gov/water/apply-for-rebates.

Can my neighborhood group request that Storm to Shade install GSI in our neighborhood?

While S2S does not accept requests from neighborhood groups, Tucson Clean and Beautiful's GSI mini-grant program awards neighborhood-scale stormwater harvesting grants to neighborhoods who qualify, to plan, design, and construct small-scale GSI features.

Does Storm to Shade install water harvesting tanks (cisterns)?

Storm to Shade installs GSI which are otherwise known as passive water harvesting system and does not install cisterns.  Cisterns are considered active water harvesting systems. The Tucson Water Conservation Program offers rebates and grants for active systems. For more information and resources on installing a cistern visit: https://www.tucsonaz.gov/water/apply-for-rebates.

Will adding GSI increase mosquitoes?

No. All GSI built under this program will be designed, constructed, and maintained to allow stormwater to sink into the ground within48- 72 hours to prevent mosquitoes from breeding. In the rare times water fails to infiltrate and when alerted to its presence, the Storm to Shade Program will ensure that mosquito abatement activities are undertaken in a timely manner.

Which facilities are going to be maintained using the GSI Funds? 

All sites constructed with the GSI Fund will be maintained by the program. The maintenance of GSI features located on City of Tucson property and constructed prior to the fund’s initiation will be evaluated and prioritized according to available resources and equity considerations, such as the Tree Equity Score. These may be located along local city streets, in city parks, at city Ward offices, and other city owned facilities as designated. Storm to Shade will assume responsibility of the identified GSI features under a formal agreement process initiated between the relevant city departments, divisions, and programs.

How can I contact Storm to Shade?

Comments and questions related to the Storm to Shade program can be submitted via the contact form.  You can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram by searching @StormtoShade.


Learn more about how the Storm to Shade program was established:

GSI Program Proposal approved by Mayor and Council September 4, 2019 
Ordinance creating GSI Fee and Fund February 4, 2020
Memorandum to Mayor and Council February 4, 2020