The City of Toledo – situated in the low-lying area also known as the Great Black Swamp – is susceptible to flooding and drainage problems. Located at the southwestern crook of Lake Erie, the city spans both sides of the Maumee River just south of the Maumee Bay. Toledo and the surrounding area of Lucas County have numerous small creeks, tributaries and drainage ditches that flow into Lake Erie.
Although major flooding events get the most attention, areas that receive chronic flooding from short and intense rain events (sometimes an inch of rain within an hour or two) are affected in the same negative ways. Recent years have experienced more frequent and intense rain events leading to standing water, basement flooding, decreased water quality from either increased erosion or combined sewer overflows (CSO’s) and a strain to public services and budgets, overloaded storm water sites, as well as property damage. The Toledo Waterways Initiative is addressing the CSO issues, but is not aimed at addressing storm-water flooding.
Toledo is currently researching how both green and gray infrastructure may be able to help battle these continual flooding problems. Gray infrastructure solutions include decreasing combined sewer/stormwater overflows, and eliminating disinfection of overflow tunnels, while green infrastructure solutions include decreasing impervious land cover and replacing with rain gardens, bioswales, restored or enlarged riparian buffers and wetlands. Many of the green infrastructure solutions are achievable not just at the community but at the individual level. Communities, like Milwaukee, Wisconsin, are using these approaches to tackle stormwater and water quality issues and have seen infrastructure costs savings along with increased property values and job opportunities (Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewage District, 2013).