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Sustainable Infrastructure

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The City has undertaken a number of projects to build and improve upon Evanston's sustainable infrastructure.

Current Sustainable Infrastructure Projects:

  • Water Treatment Plant Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Panels
  • Morton Civic Center Rain Gardens
  • Morton Civic Center Permeable Parking Lot
  • Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Stations
  • Green Alley Program
  • Bicycle Lanes
  • Pesticide Free Parks

Morton Civic Center Rain Gardens

In late 2015, the Morton Civic Center public parking lot underwent a complete renovation, which included rebuilding the parking bays and utilizing a variety of stormwater management practices to reduce runoff treated by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District’s (MWRD) treatment plants.

The parking lot renovation features a number of sustainable elements, including three rain gardens, two EV charging stations and three types of permeable pavement. Each rain garden has an educational sign that explains the benefits and design of a traditional rain garden.

What is a rain garden?
A rain garden is a shallow basin planted with deep-rooted native wildflowers, grasses and shrubs that filter and absorb stormwater runoff and the pollutants it carries. Their extensive root systems filter stormwater runoff by removing nutrients, sediments and pollutants before it enters our groundwater and waterways.

Why plant natives?
In addition to helping prevent erosion and improving water quality, native plants provide essential food and habitat for local wildlife. Their seeds and nectar provide a valuable food source for birds, butterflies and other insects. Native plants are those that were here prior to European settlement. They are well adapted to local conditions and require very little care once established.

Why permeable pavements?
Permeable pavements provide a solid surface similar to conventional pavements while allowing stormwater to filter through the surface to reach the underlying soils. The benefits of permeable pavements include a significant reduction in stormwater runoff to the sewer system and a reduction in the amount of water conveyed to the local wastewater treatment plant. Permeable pavements provide additional environmental benefits by cleaning stormwater runoff through natural biological processes while promoting groundwater recharge.

Project sponsors
This project was accomplished in collaboration with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Great Chicago (MWRD). The MWRD’s Stormwater Management Program provided funding assistance to implement green infrastructure to control stormwater through the use of permeable pavements and rain gardens. Stormwater control is intended to reduce the frequency and magnitude of sewer backup and overflow. The MWRD is the public agency responsible for managing stormwater and collecting and treating wastewater generated by most Cook County municipalities.

Pesticide Free Parks

In April, 2015 the City of Evanston announced the first pesticide-free parks pilot program with Adopt-a-Park partner and local business, Greenwise Organic Lawn Care, and Midwest Grows Green partner, Midwest Pesticide Action Center. Signs are posted in each of the five participating parks that say they are "Pesticide Free Parks." Be sure to look for the signs in the parks below.

Participating Parks

  • Ackerman Park
  • Burnham Shores
  • Eiden Park
  • Perry Park
  • Trahan Park

Management Practices

Instead of using pesticide treatments, the City will work with alternative weed control methods, such as mowing high to increase root strength and naturally shade out weeds, in addition to improving soil health for natural weed resistance.

The overuse and misuse of pesticides is a significant reason why chemicals find their way into the region’s lakes, rivers, and streams. Evanston’s pesticide-free parks pilot program will mark the 5th anniversary of the City’s Pesticide Reduction Policy, which solidified Evanston’s commitment to protect the health of families and the environment by significantly decreasing the application of pesticides in public spaces.

Natural Lawn Care Tips

  • Water 1" Per Week: Water deeply no more than once a week. This practice encourages deep root growth. To measure, place an empty tuna or water chestnut can in your yard while watering. When your sprinkler fills it, your watering for the week is done. Water early in the morning to minimize disease problems.
  • Mow 3" High: Keep your lawn cut at three inches or higher to increase root strength and naturally shade out weeds. Don’t mow your lawn unless it needs it.
  • Use Organic Fertilizers: Synthetic fertilizers easily wash away, polluting nearby lakes and streams. Many contain toxic weed killers. Choose an organic fertilizer like compost or alfalfa meal to capture and deliver nutrients in the lawn throughout the growing season. Take a soil test to know exactly what nutrients your lawn needs. Mulch and keep grass clippings on the lawn for an extra boost.
  • Weed Naturally: Proper lawn care maintenance naturally eliminates most weeds. Avoid using synthetic herbicides and pesticides, as they can harm other beneficial living things such as bees, birds, butterflies and fish. The right tool makes quick work of weeding. After pulling weeds, use grass seed mixed with topsoil to fill in the hole.

For more information, please contact 311.