Webinar to examine environmentally sustainable stormwater management

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State Extension will offer a Web-based seminar focusing on low-impact development, a stormwater-management strategy designed to mitigate the impacts of increased runoff and resulting pollution.

To be presented at noon and 7 p.m. May 15, "Low Impact Development and Smart Growth: How Are They Best Integrated and Utilized in Our Communities?" will give participants a look at how green infrastructure strategies make a difference.

Presenters Peter Wulfhorst and John Turack, economic and community development extension educators based in Pike and Westmoreland counties, respectively, noted that the one-hour session will cover environmentally sustainable stormwater-management practices that promote the use of natural systems for infiltration, evapotranspiration and reuse of rainwater.

The webinar will highlight site-design approaches and small-scale efforts, such as installing rain gardens, bioretention facilities and green roofs; reducing the amount of turf; and increasing tree canopy along streams and parking lots.

"These practices can effectively remove nutrients, pathogens and metals from stormwater, and they reduce the volume and intensity of stormwater flows," said Wulfhorst.

As communities have been built, streams and rivers have been impacted negatively by stormwater runoff through pollution, streambank erosion and lower stream flows, Wulfhorst explained.

"Our traditional development of streets, parking lots and other impervious areas creates stormwater runoff, which traditionally has been addressed through large basins," he said. "The reduction of impervious surfaces reduces the infrastructure costs of roads, stormwater basins and storm drains in communities, thereby lowering the cost of development."

Currently, communities -- including the City of Philadelphia -- are utilizing low-impact development -- or LID -- to address the combined sewer outflows issue, Wulfhorst pointed out. The Philadelphia Water Department will invest more than a billion dollars in the coming years to "green" 34 percent of the combined sewer area in the city to manage stormwater at the source.

Where LID practices are utilized is perhaps just as important as how stormwater is managed, stressed Turack, who also serves as the interim executive director of the Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County.

During the webinar, he will give a brief explanation of "smart growth principles" and their planned utilization in conjunction with LID during the creation of the award-winning Route 30 Master Plan in Westmoreland County. The plan won a 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania Commonwealth Award in 2011.

"The creation of the Route 30 Master Plan was as much an educational event for the communities involved as it was to be a plan for actual implementation," Turack said. "We tried to demonstrate new technologies and ways of managing the challenges of development. Low-impact development practices were among the tools used.

"We partnered with the Westmoreland Conservation District and its staff to generate innovative, LID demonstration concepts. The Route 30 Master Plan illustrates some of these concepts."

The May 15 presentation is the last of Penn State Extension's monthly Land Use Decision-Making Webinar Series, which has provided information about current planning issues, land-use planning tools and techniques, local regulation and community engagement. The sessions are designed to help planners, elected officials and citizens better engage in land-use decision-making processes.

Three previous webinars -- "Planning in Pennsylvania: Land Use, Communities and Beyond," "How Pre-emption of Zoning and Other Local Controls Impacts Planning" and "Developing More Effective Citizen Engagement: A How-To Guide for Community Leaders" -- were recorded and are available to registered participants for viewing.

Registration cost for the entire webinar series is $25, and registrants can watch as few or as many webinars as they like. For more information, contact Jeff Himes, extension educator based in Tioga County, at 570-724-9120 or jhimes@psu.edu, or visit the website.

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Last Updated May 09, 2013