Mayor Gray Green Infrastructure mtg photo

Through several special educational sessions and field outings in connection with board meetings, WWKY and representatives of NRDC met with officials from Northern Kentucky, Louisville MSD, Lexington LFUCG, Bowling Green, and Owensboro.  As a result of those discussions, WWKY contracted to draft and produce the Kentucky Green Infrastructure Action Plan for Stormwater and Wet Weather Sewage Management (“GI Report”).  The Report received final approval from WWKY in February 2013.

Following the submittal of that report, WWKY, River Network, and NRDC, among others, organized an Advancing Green Infrastructure Conference in Louisville.  A Louisville Supplement to the GI Report was discussed, but it was decided by WWKY to forego the drafting of a Louisville Supplement at that time. In the meantime, WWKY applied for and received a grant from VEE to host a Green Infrastructure Conference in Lexington with River Network and to draft and produce a Lexington Supplement to the GI Report.

Green Infrastructure AudienceThe Advancing Green Infrastructure in Lexington Conference took place at Locust Trace AgriScience Farm in Lexington, Kentucky on October 10, 2013.  The Conference began with a keynote from Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, who discussed Lexington’s commitment to green infrastructure and the progress made.  Hank Graddy then led the discussion on conference structure and outcomes, and Dr. Lindell Ormsby closed out the introduction with a brief overview of green infrastructure.

The first plenary featured Susan Plueger, P.E., from the LFUCG Division of Water Quality.  Ms. Plueger discussed the history of stormwater management in Fayette County, explained how the GI program in Lexington currently functions, and gave several examples of GI projects in Fayette County.  The second plenary presented the “State of the State” of GI in Kentucky. The panel featured Scott Southall, who presented his firm’s GI project in Frankfort, John Carman, who presented his firm’s GI project on East Market Street in Louisville, and John Webb, who presented o the Kentucky Division of Water’s 319 grant program and the various GI projects that program has funded across Kentucky.

The Conference also held two rounds of breakout sessions. The first session consisted of five breakout groups. The first breakout group featured Dr. Ormsby who went in depth on GI basics. The second breakout group featured Sandy Carmargo and Eric Larsen, and focused on business and institutional GI projects in Lexington. The third breakout group featured Chris Dent of the LFUCG and Kara Sayles of Bluegrass Greensource who discussed residential GI in Lexington. The fourth breakout group featured Susan Plueger, and Jim Duncan and Jimmy Emmons, both from LFUCG Division of Planning, who presented on GI in planning and zoning regulation and enforcement. The fifth breakout group was a tour of the Locust Trace facility focusing on the various GI elements of the property.

The second breakout session featured three breakout groups.  The first group featured Hank Graddy and Hal Sprague, and focused on what Lexington can achieve with GI in the future. The second group featured Scott Southall and Robert Hewitt, who discussed the renovation of the Franklin County Courthouse and the use of 319 funds to utilize GI elements in and around the renovated courthouse. Brandi Berryman focused on the daylighting of Town Branch in downtown Lexington. The third group was a repeat tour of the Locust Trace property.

The third plenary session featured Hal Sprague of the Center for Neighborhood Technology headquartered in Chicago.  Mr. Sprague presented on his organization’s work regarding the green infrastructure portfolio standard.  The other featured keynote, Christine McKay, a representative of the U.S. EPA, was scheduled to present on EPA support for GI in Kentucky.  Unfortunately, she was unable to attend due to the federal government shutdown.

The Conference ended with the fourth plenary, a panel discussion of Lexington’s goals for GI in the future. Several people commented on the NRDC’s green emerald city ratings, and how Lexington should aspire to be a green emerald city. Hank Graddy and Hal Sprague discussed what it would mean to implement a GI portfolio standard in Lexington and to obtain no net loss in permeability. Also discussed was the stormwater runoff retention exception for rehabilitated property in Lexington. In conclusion, most agreed that Lexington has made a promising start implementing GI. If Lexington continues its course by using innovative ideas such as a GI standard portfolio, or aspires to achieve a full green emerald rating, Lexington will become a leading city in the country for GI and stormwater management.

Summary provided by:  Hank Graddy