Green Infrastructure

Green Infrastructure for Arid Communities

This webcast showcases how green infrastructure practices and the many associated benefits can be effective not only in wetter climates, but also for those communities in arid and semi-arid regions around the nation that have different precipitation patterns and water demand challenges.


Session 1—Rain Harvesting Green Infrastructure Strategies in Southern California

Neal Shapiro, Supervisor, Watershed Section, Office of Sustainability and the Environment, City of Santa Monica Exit

This session describes the city of Santa Monica’s watershed management program, which focuses on rain and dry weather runoff harvesting. The city uses sustainable water solutions to keep runoff local for on-site and off-site benefits and to replace imported potable water, improving the city’s water self-sufficiency. The city has a goal to be water self-sufficient by 2020, eliminating the need for imported water. Besides water supply, the green infrastructure solutions improve receiving water quality, the original driver behind implementing a green infrastructure stormwater management strategy. Also discussed are the city’s watershed management guidelines and the structural green infrastructure strategies for achieving its 2020 goal.

Learn more about Santa Monica’s watershed management program (PDF)(20 pp, 2.7 MB, About PDF) Exit.

Session 2—Tucson's Conserve to Enhance and Living River Programs: Improving Urban River Corridors for People and Wildlife

Emily Brott, Development Officer, Sonoran Institute Exit

The Sonoran Institute specializes in bringing diverse people together to address community issues related to water, land, and energy conservation. In the realm of green infrastructure, Emily speaks to the institute’s partnerships with two Tucson, Arizona-based programs, both of which are supported by EPA funding:

  • Conserve to Enhance (C2E) Exit, an innovative green infrastructure program that incentivizes water conservation at home while catalyzing local stream restoration projects.
  • The Living River report series Exit, a community monitoring program that helps track and communicate water quality and riparian health data.


Neal Shapiro is the senior sustainability analyst and watershed management coordinator for the city of Santa Monica’s Office of Sustainability and the Environment. He also is a Certified Professional in Storm Water Quality, Certified Stormwater Manager, and Envision Sustainability Professional. He serves on the editorial board of Watershed Science Bulletin, and is a director and secretary on the board of directors for the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association. He oversees water conservation and efficiency programs, and watershed management programs, all geared to reducing water pollution and using limited water resources in a sustainable manner. Neal has been with the city since March 1999. He worked previously with the Jacques Cousteau Society, researching global water issues for films, books, policies, and expeditions. He graduated from the University of California at Santa Barbara with a bachelor’s in aquatic biology, and from the University of Delaware with a master’s in marine policy.

Emily Brott is a development officer with the Sonoran Institute and is the organization’s former program manager for the Santa Cruz River Project. She has worked for over a decade in water conservation and river restoration programs, from the Colorado River Delta in Baja California, Mexico, to the Cienega Creek and Santa Cruz River in Arizona and northern Sonora, Mexico. In 2011, she was named one of the Arizona Daily Star's Tucson's 40 under 40 up-and-coming community leaders. Prior to joining the Sonoran Institute, Emily specialized in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency drinking water policy at the Cadmus Group, Inc., in Waltham, Massachusetts. She has an international master’s degree in environmental sciences from Lund University in Lund, Sweden, and a Bachelor of Arts in biology from Harvard University. Emily is currently pursuing her MBA at Thunderbird School of Global Management.