Stopping stormwater pollution through technology: Great Lakes Commission, Lawrence Tech champion new stormwater tech initiative
The new group aims to spread the use of advanced stormwater technology throughout the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River region in the United States and Canada – overcoming barriers to getting the right stormwater technology to the right people and places.
Innovations in stormwater management, such as green infrastructure design, data-driven water management systems, and proprietary structural systems, are vital in protecting communities from polluted stormwater and flooding. But smaller or financially struggling communities can face challenges in implementing them.
The collaborative’s kickoff event focused on establishing the guiding principles, structure and function of the group, and addressing initial priorities that were identified through interviews and focus groups over the past year and provided the impetus to form the collaborative.
Victoria Pebbles, program director at the Great Lakes Commission, noted the importance of the new group. “In 2014, 22 billion gallons of untreated sewage and stormwater were released into the Great Lakes,” she said. “Innovative stormwater management like green infrastructure can be a cost-effective way to address this crisis, but only if Great Lakes communities know about and can access the appropriate technology. This collaborative will be a powerful resource for communities struggling to implement sustainable solutions to address stormwater management needs.”
Donald Carpenter, professor of practice in civil engineering at LTU and director of the university’s Great Lakes Stormwater Management Institute, is working with the collaborative to spread sustainable stormwater management practices and technologies. Carpenter said implementing green infrastructure in communities can greatly reduce pressure on existing “gray” infrastructure – the pipes and pumps that move stormwater to treatment plants or directly to rivers – especially in locales where these systems are outdated or degraded.
“We have an opportunity to share some really innovative solutions with communities throughout the region and have an impact on how infrastructure is developed and sustained into the future,” Carpenter said. “This group will connect a lot of the dots to make it easier for local governments to access and implement the appropriate technologies for their communities’ stormwater management needs.”
Establishment of the collaborative is supported by the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation. A sister project, the Green Infrastructure Champions Pilot Program, also supported by the Erb Family Foundation, will create a mentoring network of “green infrastructure champions” and emerging communities across the Great Lakes. The two efforts will work in tandem to reduce physical and institutional barriers to a greener approach to stormwater management.
The Great Lakes Commission, led by chairman John Linc Stine, commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, is an interstate compact agency established under state and U.S. federal law and dedicated to promoting a strong economy, healthy environment and high quality of life for the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region and its residents. The Commission consists of governors’ appointees, state legislators, and agency officials from its eight member states. Associate membership for Ontario and Québec was established through the signing of a “Declaration of Partnership.” The Commission maintains a formal Observer program involving U.S. and Canadian federal agencies, tribal authorities, binational agencies and other regional interests. The Commission offices are located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Learn more at www.glc.org.
Lawrence Technological University, www.ltu.edu, is a private university founded in 1932 that offers more than 100 programs through the doctoral level in its Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Engineering, and Management. PayScale lists Lawrence Tech among the nation’s top 100 universities for the salaries of its graduates, and U.S. News and World Report lists it in the top tier of best Midwestern universities. Students benefit from small class sizes and a real-world, hands-on, “theory and practice” education with an emphasis on leadership. Activities on Lawrence Tech’s 107-acre campus include more than 60 student organizations and NAIA varsity sports.