City of Dubuque, Iowa

The City of Dubuque has over 300 alleys. These alleys are mostly constructed with asphalt pavement and don't drain well. The City decided to move forward with a pilot project in 2009 to reconstruct 2 alleys using permeable pavement. One alley was reconstructed with porous asphalt and the other used interlocking concrete pavers. Since that time a total of 9 alleys have been reconstructed using permeable pavement. The City has plans to reconstruct an additional 237 alleys over the next 20 years. The first 73 alleys are scheduled to be reconstructed in the next 3 years.

Q. What water quality practices do you use on your property?
A. The City is using interlocking concrete pavers for the green alleys. The city chose this pavement material due to several reasons: 

  1. The brick mimics the old bricks pavers that used to be in the downtown Dubuque alleys. 
  2. The brick pavers can be removed and replaced in sections if needed due to damage and are readily available. This is especially useful if utility repairs need to occur, new pavers are not needed. Just remove and replace. 
  3. The pavers do a terrific job of infiltrating water and are easily swept and cleaned when necessary.

Q. Why did you voluntarily adopt these practices?
A. Since 2006, the Dubuque Mayor and City Council have identified becoming a more Sustainable City as one of their top priorities. To that end, our City continues to implement a community-defined sustainability plan. Sustainable Dubuque is a holistic approach to making our community sustainable. 

Our model involves a three-part approach that addresses: Environmental and Ecological Integrity; Economic Prosperity; Social and Cultural Vibrancy. One of the 11 Principles to the Dubuque Model identified by Dubuque citizens is Clean Water. Sustainable Dubuque is a community that values water as a source of life and seeks to preserve and manage it in all forms. The Green Alleys offer a significant and measurable improvement on water quality in the Bee Branch Creek and Mississippi River.

Q. What, if any, assistance (financial as well as technical) did you receive to employ these practices?
A. During the 2009 Iowa General Assembly session, legislation was passed to allow a new method for funding water quality protection. Senate File 339 amended the Iowa Code to add a new category of projects that can be financed with sewer revenues. This new category, called "water resource restoration," includes locally directed, watershed-based projects to address water quality impairments. 

The City has received $9.4 million in State Revolving Fund (SRF) monies due to a restructuring of a loan on the City's Water Resource and Recovery Center Project. This funding in addition to city funds will allow the reconstruction of 73 alleys over the next three years.

Q. What is your environmental philosophy as it relates to your property and business?
A. Dubuque is a community that values: 

  • Environmental Integrity: Healthy Air: fresh, clean air, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and minimized health risks; 
  • Clean Water: water as the source of life and seeks to preserve and manage it in all forms; 
  • Native Plants and Animals: biodiversity through the preservation, restoration and connection of nature and people; 
  • Economic Prosperity: Regional Economy: a diversified regional economy with opportunities for new and green markets, jobs, products and services;
  • Smart Energy Use: energy conservation and expanded use of renewable energy as a means to save money and protect the environment; 
  • Resource Management: the benefits of reducing, reusing and recycling resources;
  • Community Design: the built environment of the past, present and future which contributes to its identity, heritage and sense of place; 
  • Social/Cultural Vibrancy Green Buildings: a productive and healthy built environment;
  • Healthy Local Foods: the benefits of wholesome food from local producers, distributors, farms, gardens and hunters;
  • Community Knowledge: education, empowerment and engagement to achieve economic prosperity, environmental integrity and social/cultural vibrancy; 
  • Reasonable Mobility: safe, reasonable and equitable choices to access live, work and play opportunities.