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The Community-Building Power of Stormwater: Green Infrastructure and Its Meaning to Urban Residents

Project Leaders: Noelwah Netusil, Vivek Shandas, Mark Stephan, Paul Theirs

This project examines the relationship between government initiated green infrastructure projects and behavioral change in several neighborhoods in the Portland/Vancouver metropolitan regions.

Research Questions:

  1. How do the structures and functions of green infrastructure interact to affect the type of ecosystem services available at neighborhood and regional scales?
  2. How do ecosystem services provided by green infrastructure affect governance structures and social perceptions of neighborhood conditions?
  3. How are the flows of information about green infrastructure between governance structures and communities affected by an understanding of ecosystem services?


Alternative ways to communicate and describe alternative visions of neighborhoods through alternative media, such as the arts, can lead to richer engagement of communities that are traditionally difficult to engage, and improve dialogue among a more diverse set of stakeholders.


  1. Conduct an exhaustive assessment of 12 neighborhoods; six in Portland and six in Vancouver, that were selected due to their similarity in terms of built form, social conditions, and environmental characteristics in 2010.
    1. Identify neighborhoods in Vancouver with similar sociodemographics as the Brooklyn Basin in Portland - with and without green streets.
    2. Conduct neighborhood survey in both Portland and Vancouver.
    3. Design survey instrument based on 2009 survey.
    4. Collaborate with cities of Vancouver/WSU and Portland to administer survey.
    5. Conduct hedonic price analysis for survey neighborhoods.
    6. Identify sales of homes within study neighborhoods.
    7. Conduct time-series analysis and distance analysis for study neighborhoods.
    8. Asses the effectiveness of conducting peer-based 'civic science' program.
    9. Identify and recruit students and neighborhood residents for conducting hydrological analysis.
  2. Evaluate the mapped urban landscapes using the SWMM stormwater model for water quantity/quality and species habitat associations for biodiversity.
    1. Develop and test hydrological monitoring protocol for stormwater infrastructure.
    2. Test protocol on several study sites - including analysis of results.
    3. Conduct citywide monitoring campaign of stormwater systems.
  3. Work with the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) and regional high school teachers and students to examine the biophysical and social changes associated with green infrastructure.
    1. The high school students will work with project leaders and graduate students to develop stormwater monitoring manuals that aim to engage citizens in neighborhood based "citizen science" programs.
      1. Contact OMSI and develop draft work plan.
      2. Coordinate with OMSI (Amanda) to schedule events.
    2. Students products will be presented at an annual symposium during the final year of the ULTRA-Ex.
      1. Evaluate opportunities for 'Science Pub', Poster Presentation, etc.