UNT urban planning assistant professor is part of a community-science partnership to enhance stormwater management and equity

Dr. Lauren Ames Fischer, associate professor in the College of Health and Public Service Department of Public Administration, is part of a team that has received a National Science Foundation CIVIC 2022 Stage 1 Planning Grant to address urban water sustainability challenges.

DENTON (UNT), Texas – The collaboration with Texas A&M AgriLife and The Nature Conservancy addresses urban flooding and the concern that traditional flood control systems are less effective under climate change. The project’s initial phase collaborates with the City of Denton to create and pilot solutions that can be adapted for the DFW region and beyond. Members of the group say that nature-based stormwater solutions can be an effective strategy for flood resilience but are more successful when aligned with community needs. This project aims to educate stakeholders on the benefits of Blue-Green Infrastructure (BGI) – a globally recognized nature-based alternative to traditional stormwater infrastructure – and develop a Community Green Asset Management (CGAM) tool that augments existing asset management software used by municipalities to manage and identify sustainable infrastructure solutions.

“Infrastructure planning and management has evolved considerably in the past few decades to accommodate shifting climate conditions, but it remains difficult for many local governments to strategically integrate nature-based and sustainable solutions into current practices,” Fischer said. “This project targets known barriers to change while also prioritizing community needs and concerns using innovative engagement strategies.”

The project also includes interactive workshops with community members and organizations to provide hands-on exposure to BGI, such as rain gardens and blue-green roofs, and to gather community feedback, address concerns and explain the benefits of the technology.

“It is a missing piece in governance that provides meaningful tools for communities to support and guide site development, implementation and maintenance in ways that can increase not only public acceptance of BGI but also public investment,” said Dr. Wendy Jepson, Texas Water Resources Institute associate director and professor of geography. “Our premise is that small institutional innovation can lead to big change.”

The next workshop will be held January 5 in Denton. Volunteers interested in taking part in the project can sign up here.