Green Streets Clean Water Plan Wins Award for Outstanding Innovation


On October 13th, 2022, the County received the Outstanding Innovation in Resilient or Sustainable Planning and Design award from the San Diego Chapter of the Association of Environmental Professionals for the Green Streets Clean Water Plan.

This award is given to documents that have made an effort to implement sustainable planning using an innovative and effective methodology.

What is a green street?

Green streets are a stormwater management approach that integrate green infrastructure strategies into roads and rights-of-way. Green infrastructure elements use vegetation, soil, and engineered systems to slow, filter, and clean stormwater runoff from streets, parking lots, and other adjacent areas. Some examples of green infrastructure include vegetated swales, tree wells, permeable pavement, and underground treatment or trash capture systems. By incorporating these elements, green streets help to reduce pollutants in stormwater, thereby improving the water quality in our local waterways, bays, and beaches, while also beautifying our neighborhoods, reducing urban heating, and enhancing pedestrian safety.

Green Streets Clean Water Plan

The County’s Green Streets Clean Water Plan is a comprehensive analysis of nearly 1,200 miles of roads in urban centers of unincorporated areas to identify the best locations to accept and treat stormwater runoff while simultaneously taking advantage of opportunities for community enhancements, such as sidewalks, bike lanes, vegetation, and tree cover. Over the course of 18 months, the Department of Public Work’s Watershed Protection Program (WPP) staff developed the plan, conducted outreach to both the public and an internal advisory committee, developed a website and used social media to share information on the plan’s development, conducted surveys to gather needed input, and provided regular opportunities for stakeholders to provide input while developing the plan.

Green Streets Clean Water Plan Cover

The plan implemented a three-step approach to identify green streets project opportunities that provide the highest benefits. The drainage areas with the highest need for green streets were first chosen based on factors that include the potential pollutant load reduction, existing tree cover, access to parks, and whether the community was disadvantaged or low income. The plan then identified the best-suited locations for treatment systems through geospatial (Geographic Information System [GIS]) characterization and screening as well as visual inspections to help identify opportunities or constraints (e.g., utility boxes, fire hydrants, parking areas, or other obstructions) that were not captured in the GIS analysis. The initially identified locations were further screened based on design constraints to ensure that the proposed treatment system met construction requirements and optimal treatment performance. Eighty-five total opportunity areas for greens streets are identified in the plan, with the top 30 projects selected based on the combination of their potential to provide the highest environmental benefits, community benefits, and cost effectiveness.

County staff accepting awardCounty staff and consultant team accepting award

Across the top 30 projects, it is estimated that 283 acres of total area can be treated with the implementation of 80 tree wells and 26 hydrodynamic separators. These projects would also provide over 82,000 square feet of green space in underserved communities, plant more than 1,000 trees, and improve 3 miles of sidewalk. One of the top opportunities identified, South Mission Road, near the Fallbrook Airport in the community of Fallbrook, has been identified to receive $2.5M in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds and will be the first project from the plan to be constructed.