Rapid assessment and long‐term monitoring of green stormwater infrastructure with citizen scientists

Thomas Meixner, Alan R. Berkowitz, Alisen E. Downey, Jose Pillich, Reese Levea, Brianne K. Smith, Mark Chandler, Neha Gupta, Stan Rullman, Anna Woodroof, Jennifer Cherrier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) has emerged as a promising decentralized management approach to urban stormwater challenges. A lack of data about GSI performance interferes with widespread adoption of GSI. A citizen science program that benefits researchers, lay scientists, and municipalities offers a way to provide these lacking data. We have developed an open‐source, transferable green infrastructure rapid assessment (GIRA) protocol for studying the performance of GSI with citizen scientists. This protocol has been tested in six North American cities (New York City, Toronto, Vancouver, Chicago, San Francisco, and Buffalo). In this research we define the performance of GSI in varying geographic, climatic, and maintenance conditions with the intent to create technological, institutional, and management solutions to urban stormwater problems. The GIRA protocol was used by citizen scientists to assess the physical properties and capabilities of bioswales, while small, affordable Green Infrastructure Sensors Boxes (GIBoxes) were used to determine longer‐term function across several rain events. Our results indicate that teams of citizen scientists can be effective for collecting and archiving widespread information on the post‐installa-tion function of GSI. The effort also showed that citizen scientists had changes in understanding of urban stormwater challenges and the role that GSI can play in solving these problems. We explore the multiple benefits to knowledge, participants, and municipal partners as a result of this research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number12520
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number22
StatePublished - Nov 1 2021


  • Citizen science
  • Green stormwater infrastructure
  • Stormwater
  • Urban

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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