Consumer demand for green stormwater management technology in an urban setting: The case of Chicago rain barrels

Amy W Ando, Luiz P.C. Freitas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hydrological disruption and water pollution from urbanization can be reduced if households in urban areas adopt decentralized storm water controls. We study a citywide municipal subsidized rain-barrel program in the third biggest city in the United States, Chicago, to explore what factors influence whether households purchase this sort of green storm water management technology in an urban setting. Specifically, we regress census-tract level data on the number of rain barrels adopted in different parts of the city on socioeconomic variables, data on local flood frequency, and features of the housing stock. We find that rain-barrel purchases are not correlated with local levels of flooding, even though city residents were told by program managers that rain barrels could alleviate local flooding. Instead, rain barrels are heavily concentrated in places with high-income attitudinally green populations. We do find more rain barrels were adopted in places close to rain-barrel distribution points and near sites of hydrological information campaigns; thus, policy makers might increase green-technology adoption in areas where they can do the most good by reducing transaction costs and providing education programs to those areas. Finally, our results indicate that owner occupancy is positively correlated with green-technology adoption. Low-rise rental housing may have inefficiently low levels of adoption, such that city managers might want to develop programs to encourage storm water management investments by landlords who do not live in their own properties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberW12501
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 12 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


Dive into the research topics of 'Consumer demand for green stormwater management technology in an urban setting: The case of Chicago rain barrels'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this