March 22nd was the United Nation’s World Water Day, providing an opportunity to think about managing water smartly. This year’s focus was on sustainable development.

While the United Nations educates us on worldwide water-related issues and sustainable development, Onvia’s suite of business intelligence tools reveals that U.S. state and local agencies are already working to improve water quality and treat water management more responsibly. For instance, projects for supplying wastewater equipment grew by 4% in 2014 over 2013. In 2013, city, county, and state agencies published 5,359 projects in that category, and, in 2014, 5,575 were published.

Whether it’s state agencies building rain gardens to treat on-site stormwater runoff or cities installing green roofs to store water and filter pollutants from rainfall, officials have been thinking “green.”

Stormwater Runoff

Municipalities are considering ways to move stormwater, avoid stagnant pools and the potential for flooding basements. According to Onvia’s Spending Forecast Center, cities have already adopted 52% of budgets that include stormwater runoff-related projects that stretch from this year into 2018.

ExampleThe City of Portland in Oregon is one of the top agencies with stormwater related budgets and capital improvement projects. The city, which is set between the Willamette and Columbia rivers, has budgeted $12.4 million in 2016 and 2017 to replace pipes in poor condition, relieve street flooding and the risk of basement sewer backups to more than 300 properties. In a similar project, the city has allotted $9.4 million to construct public facilities to manage and treat stormwater runoff for Pleasant Valley, a neighborhood inside the city.

ExampleThe City of Chesapeake in Virginia has plans for a five-year, $7.5 million project to ensure compliance with the Virginia Pollution Discharge Elimination System Permit. This project will include the development of the PARS system (a regional stormwater tracking and reporting system), extensive data collection and inspection of all stormwater management and, as part of the permit requirements the City will complete stormwater retrofit infrastructure projects to address stormwater runoff discharge into waterways and creeks.

Green Roofs

Public officials are also thinking about waste water innovation.

Green roofs are energy and water savers. They are as simple as a few inches of hardy groundcover or as complex as a park complete with trees atop an office building.

According to Onvia’s Project Center, cities and towns are planning and constructing environmentally sustainable facilities, which include green roofs. Among state and local governments, cities released 55% of requests for proposals and bids in 2013 and 2014. Of those, 60% request construction services, showing that cities are beyond the planning phase and are ready to build. Other cities are looking for architectural and engineering firms for projects relating to surveying, planning and design services.

ExampleThe City of New York in New York, for instance, issued a solicitation in 2014 for a five-year contract to develop the city-wide Storm Water Management Program. The contract includes environmental planning and stormwater services, construction and maintenance of the green roofs as part of the overall infrastructure redo.

Rain Gardens

Rain gardens, or more technically called bioretention areas, are landscaping features designed to provide on-site treatment of stormwater runoff. Cities often lay out the gardens in islands in parking lots or small residential land areas. Runoff is then directed into shallow landscaped depressions.

In the previous two years, state and local governments have released nearly 1,000 bids and RFPs for rain garden landscaping and maintenance. Cities released 42% of the solicitations and state agencies issued 40%.

Interesting to note for government contractors that qualify for set-asides: Small, disadvantaged businesses, which are 8(a) certified by the U.S. Small Business Administration, received a majority of the rain garden-related contracts published in 2013 and 2014.

The Nebraska Department of Roads issued a series of bids in March 2015. One bid is a $1 million contract for grading roads and building culverts. Along with pipes and drainage, the department wants its culverts to use rocks as sediment filters and erosion stoppers, called rock riprap, and the rain gardens, which can soak up water and eliminate stagnant, standing water.

Permeable Pavement

Cities are laying down surfaces, such as roads, sidewalks and footpaths with permeable pavement. The type of pavement allows storm water to soak through, while trapping solids.

In the previous two years, Onvia Project Center showed that state governments released 52% of bids and RFPs that include permeable pavement, and 36% of bids and RFPs were released by cities and town agencies. State agencies and cities in Kentucky issued 47% of solicitations—the most of any state in the previous two years. The second and third locations that issued permeable pavement bids and RFPs came from Washington State, which released 8% of solicitations, and then California, which released 6%.

ExampleThe Township of Madison, Lake County in Ohio published a bid request in December 2014 to retrofit approximately 2,500 square feet of existing pavement with permeable pavement and approximately 1,500 square feet with bio-retention. Re-grading of select areas will also be required to ensure that storm water is most efficiently conveyed to the permeable pavement and bio-retention practices.


The United Nations is talking about the future of clean water supplies as it impacts people as well as the sustainability measures across the world. In the United States at the state and local levels of government, water repairs and environmental plans are already providing projects for a variety of vendors: landscapers, architecture firms and construction firms can get in on the ground level as cities plan, design and construct new sustainability approaches. City and state agencies want to improve worn-down infrastructure and implement cost-effective and efficient ways to deal with water issues. Vendors have an excellent opportunity to help agencies achieve these goals.