Environmental Management

, Volume 57, Issue 5, pp 1112–1124 | Cite as

Urban Stormwater Governance: The Need for a Paradigm Shift

  • Krishna P. Dhakal
  • Lizette R. Chevalier


Traditional urban stormwater management involves rapid removal of stormwater through centralized conveyance systems of curb–gutter–pipe networks. This results in many adverse impacts on the environment including hydrological disruption, groundwater depletion, downstream flooding, receiving water quality degradation, channel erosion, and stream ecosystem damage. In order to mitigate these adverse impacts, urban stormwater managers are increasingly using green infrastructure that promote on-site infiltration, restore hydrological functions of the landscape, and reduce surface runoff. Existing stormwater governance, however, is centralized and structured to support the conventional systems. This governance approach is not suited to the emerging distributed management approach, which involves multiple stakeholders including parcel owners, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations. This incongruence between technology and governance calls for a paradigm shift in the governance from centralized and technocratic to distributed and participatory governance. This paper evaluates how five US cities have been adjusting their governance to address the discord. Finally, the paper proposes an alternative governance model, which provides a mechanism to involve stakeholders and implement distributed green infrastructure under an integrative framework.


Urban stormwater Green infrastructure Governance Neighborhood Institution Hydrologic district 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Environmental Resources and PolicySouthern Illinois University CarbondaleCarbondaleUSA
  2. 2.Civil and Environmental EngineeringSouthern Illinois University CarbondaleCarbondaleUSA

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