Green Pilot Program Makes West Union a Model Community

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By Ellen Kurt

WEST UNION, Iowa – In 2004, the city began searching for funding for a sidewalk and street renovation. What they ended up doing was a 10 million dollar green project, which only cost the town 2 million dollars because of grants and funding.

"We ended up with a project that is much beyond what our original scope was back in 2004, so a much larger project at a lesser cost to the city,” Jon Biederman, chief engineer of the green pilot program, said.

West Union is now a model community for how to be green.

"Hopefully other communities will take a look at what they can do as an urban environment to reduce their storm water run off and to treat water as a resource rather than a waste product,” said Robin Bostrom, main street West Union program director.

The streets and sidewalks are made from permeable pavement, which means when it rains the water goes through the creases into the ground, instead of running down the street. Any excess runoff is guided into one of the 50 rain gardens in the town. Bostrom says the project reduces storm water runoff by 90 percent, water that would have formerly run into local streams and caused flooding.

The project also has 132 300-foot deep geothermal wells located underneath the courthouse lawn that any downtown business can hook up to for heating and cooling.

Construction lasted three years and also includes decorative banners, fixtures and light poles that house the new LED lighting. The decorative features were created by local craftsmen.

"It's so exciting to look at it and see it done. It's beautiful. We're really proud of how it turned out,” Bostrom said.
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