Dubuque Green Alleyways Policy Analysis

As part of their capstone project, Public Affairs graduate students developed metrics and conducted an analysis of Dubuque's Green Alleyways Project, which is designed to improve the aesthetic and environmental functions of alleys in the Bee Branch Watershed.  

Every time it rains, millions of gallons of water that pour onto the ground must find a pathway, and not all of it can be absorbed by the soil beneath us. This runoff, which includes the water flowing off roofs, through yards, and along streets, is commonly known as stormwater runoff. If there is no pathway for stormwater to flow, it can pose significant dangers to both urban infrastructure and natural ecosystems, leading to erosion, flooding, water pollution, and habitat degradation. Decisions-makers are tasked with determining effective strategies such as green infrastructure development to manage stormwater runoff within their communities. Some municipalities such as the City of Dubuque have adopted permeable paver practices.

Residential and commercial infrastructure within the Bee Brach Watershed has a vulnerability to repeated flash flooding from stormwater runoff during heavy rain events. With an area that has experienced six presidential disaster declarations with a total damage estimate of almost $70 million, the City of Dubuque responded with a Bee Branch Watershed Flood Mitigation Project. This plan is a multi-phased investment to mitigate flash flooding, improve water quality, stimulate investment, and enhance the quality of life within the Bee Branch Watershed. The Green Alley Reconstruction Project is a facet of the Bee Branch Flood Mitigation Project and set out to convert impervious grey alleys into pervious green alleys. This transformation would reduce the volume of stormwater as pervious surfaces allow for water to permeate through the surface and seep into the soil below. Beyond mitigating flooding, these green alleys also capture pollutants from running to the storm sewer system and the Mississippi river. Construction of the alleys began in 2009 and to date 80 of the planned 240 green alleys have been completed, with the remainder scheduled for reconstruction between 2029 and 2040, their specific construction years yet to be determined.

The team was tasked with evaluating the effectiveness of the Green Alley Reconstruction Project thus far in its progress. Based on literature review and the purpose of the Green Alley Reconstruction Project, they choose four evaluation metrics: environmental sustainability, fiscal responsibility, economy, and equity. Within the evaluation metrics, a set of impact categories was utilized to assess the Green Alley Reconstruction Project. Based off the analysis, the Green Alley Reconstruction Project offers significant potential benefits for the community. However, the students recommend a series of further actions to optimize performance of the policy. 

alleyway with red bricks
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