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Open data and stormwater systems in Los Angeles: applications for equitable green infrastructure

Erik Porse, | February 6, 2018
Summary

Urban stormwater systems traditionally used “grey” infrastructure to manage runoff. Contemporary designs now incorporate “green” infrastructure, which offers additional potential benefits such as urban amenities and health. Understanding how green and grey infrastructure investments are distributed across urban areas is important for new goals of promoting environmental justice in planning. In California, for instance, public investments increasingly require a percentage of funds to be spent in disadvantaged communities. Recent advancements in the availability of high-detail geographic data in cities can support prioritising investments to fulfil these multiple benefits. This paper analyses the distribution of stormwater infrastructure in Los Angeles (LA) County in relation to design criteria, urban structure and sociodemographic information. It demonstrates an approach for identifying projects that simultaneously address engineering needs and promote equity. Statistical analysis of high-detail sewer locations reveals geographic correlations with key local design parameters, urban characteristics and sociodemographic indicators. Watershed areas in LA County were identified that support multi-benefit projects, meeting dual criteria for infrastructure improvements and disadvantaged community status. As stormwater systems are increasingly designed for multi-benefit outcomes, new design frameworks can emphasise both performance and social equity.

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Product Description

Urban stormwater systems traditionally used “grey” infrastructure to manage runoff. Contemporary designs now incorporate “green” infrastructure, which offers additional potential benefits such as urban amenities and health. Understanding how green and grey infrastructure investments are distributed across urban areas is important for new goals of promoting environmental justice in planning. In California, for instance, public investments increasingly require a percentage of funds to be spent in disadvantaged communities. Recent advancements in the availability of high-detail geographic data in cities can support prioritising investments to fulfil these multiple benefits. This paper analyses the distribution of stormwater infrastructure in Los Angeles (LA) County in relation to design criteria, urban structure and sociodemographic information. It demonstrates an approach for identifying projects that simultaneously address engineering needs and promote equity. Statistical analysis of high-detail sewer locations reveals geographic correlations with key local design parameters, urban characteristics and sociodemographic indicators. Watershed areas in LA County were identified that support multi-benefit projects, meeting dual criteria for infrastructure improvements and disadvantaged community status. As stormwater systems are increasingly designed for multi-benefit outcomes, new design frameworks can emphasise both performance and social equity.

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UCLA-SG-2

Keywords:

disadvantaged communities (DACs), infrastructure, planning and management, stormwater, urban water conservation