Environmental Planning

Greenspace

A critical part of the 2040 Regional Transportation Plan process is to engage state and local officials involved with environmental protection about how best to avoid the potential environmental impacts of transportation planning. The OKI Environmental Viewer is a tool used to evaluate potential impact on all of the identified Regionally Significant Environmental Resources. Through 2016, OKI demonstrated this Viewer to planning professionals and environmental groups across the region interested and able to benefit from the data.

OKI participated in the Green Infrastructure Group (GIG) – collaborating with MSD, Hamilton County Planning, and others – to explore the potential of green infrastructure to positively influence combined sewer overflows (CSOs) to the Mill Creek. In 2016 projects initiated by the group were included in a US EPA report, “Planning a Green Infrastructure Incentives Program for Target Neighborhoods in the City of Cincinnati.”

The OKI Greenspace Office continued to provide technical support and build momentum for the Taking Root campaign launched in late 2013. Taking Root is a collaborative effort to address the local tree crisis and also helps retain forested area, which is a major issue identified in OKI environmental consultations on the transportation plan. In 2016, the Taking Root Campaign became an independent non-profit organization.  OKI staff continues to support this organization through active participation on the Taking Root Board.

OKI also participated in the Green Umbrella Green Space action team goals development for 2020. This effort has included work to identify and map all parks and preserves in the OKI region.

The Trees and Stormwater Guide Will Launch in Fall of 2017

U.S. Forestry Grant

Integrating Trees Into Stormwater Management Design and Policy – A Guide for Local Decision Makers is being developed by OKI and partners as a new national resource for promoting, facilitating and increasing the use of trees for stormwater management.

Despite the proven value of trees for reducing stormwater flows and pollutants, there is widespread lack of understanding, acceptance and credibility of their use for managing stormwater. The US Forest Service awarded OKI the Urban and Community Forestry Challenge Cost Share grant to develop a Guide that will help to overcome these barriers and provide a practical tool that informs local governments of options and best practices for including trees in stormwater facility design regulations and policies.

Through 2016, with input from an Advisory Committee made up of local decision makers, forestry experts, and stormwater professionals, OKI worked to identify the most practical solutions based on perspectives of local governments in our region. Davey Resource Group assisted OKI by drawing upon its vast knowledge and understanding of forests and green infrastructure to ensure that the Guide is scientifically sound and feasible. Centerline Strategy compiled a national inventory of local government policies and incentives for integrating trees into stormwater management solutions. The National Association of Regional Councils (NARC) has worked with OKI and its other members to ensure the Guide’s applicability to other regions, with particular interest to ensure applicability for arid and tropical climates and will promote it through NARC’s national membership following its 2017 launch.

In 2016, OKI launched My Community’s Water, an interactive website that analyzes the unique water resources of 122 local townships, villages and cities.  Water resource decisions usually occur at the local level even though water resources are more beholden to natural watersheds and aquifer areas than local political boundaries.  My Community’s Water can help citizens and their communities make informed choices.

OKI’s Water Quality Program also upheld long-standing staff support commitments to the:

  • Groundwater Committee, which provides technical education to public water system operators, regulators and others concerned about drinking water protection
  • OKI Regional Conservation Council, a collegial forum for county conservation districts of the Tri-State
  • Mill Creek Watershed Council of Communities, a multi-jurisdictional, non-profit organization working to improve the region’s most urbanized stream and its tributaries

OKI, in partnership with several other regional councils in the country, produced best practices for local governments’ consideration for removing barriers and streamlining processes for solar energy installations.

OKI’s Water Quality Program also upheld long-standing staff support commitments to the:

In February 2016, OKI facilitated a Solar Ready Financing and Investments Conference. A business and industry roundtable discussion included representatives from General Motors, IKEA, and Johnson & Johnson convened at OKI to share ideas for moving solar forward in the Tri-state.

Regional Clean Air Program

OKI’s Regional Clean Air Program continues to provide valuable information to the community, businesses and the media concerning air quality topics through the “Do Your Share for Cleaner Air” campaign. OKI promotes the clean air message by educating the public on the harmful effects of ozone and particulate matter pollution, while also teaching individuals how they can help to reduce air pollution.