The Role of Water in Urban Sustainability and Resiliency: An Academically Based Community Service Course

ENVS 410-301

Howard Neukrug

Tuesday, 5-8 PM

Introduction to the Course

This course examines the historical relationship between a city and its water supply and the new techniques being used to manage water in its many forms - stormwater runoff, flooding, drinking water supply and conservation, and river and stream enhancement and protection. It builds strongly on the planning, design, implementation, operating and monitoring of "green stormwater infrastructure"(or, GSI). GSI is a term developed by Philadelphia's “Green City, Clean Water” concepts that are currently being tested and implemented in cities across the US and abroad. By re-thinking how we build and manage our cities, using "soft path", "green", "decentralized" water infrastructure systems, we may be able to change the long-term outcome for the livability and viability of our communities as issues of climate change, aging infrastructure and funding take center stage in the 21st century.

The purpose of this course is to prepare the student to manage complex environmental, social and economic issues using science, planning, green design, geographic information systems, community outreach and education. Water is the medium and Philadelphia is the setting and the goal is the creation of a vibrant, sustainable city. This course will involve urban development and city planning, environmental justice and social equity, jobs and economics, civil engineering, environmental science, regulations and policy, urban hydrology, landscape architecture, community outreach and politics. You are not expected to be an expert in these areas when you begin the course, but by the time class is completed, you will be expected to understand the "transdisciplinary" nature and importance of working within groups of experts, politicians and other stakeholders.

Perhaps most importantly, this is an academically-based curriculum service (ABCS) learning approach for using water, science, and politics to create more sustainable and resilient cities. Students will be expected to take knowledge learned in the classroom and apply it through field investigations, working with non-profits, scientific data analysis, educating and/or other means of working closely with stakeholders in the community in an attempt to change the world, or at least a small piece of it.

This course is being taught by Professor of Water Practice Howard Neukrug, PE who formed the city’s Office of Watersheds in 1999 to bring many of these ideas to Philadelphia. Prof. Neukrug will use seminars, lectures, student presentations and a comprehensive community

service project to develop an in-depth understanding of current conditions effecting urban environments and how science and politics interact to influence the development of sustainable cities. It will connect the issues of a post-industrial urban centers with the goals of the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Water Industry.

Our "buried" and remaining urban creeks and rivers and the vast underground infrastructure network will be a central theme upon which we will build a working knowledge of centuries of urban growth and the environmental injustices that have emerged along the way . These will all become key factors in determining how improving our water environment can make a real difference in the lives of Philadelphians and other urban systems such as housing, land use, transportation, recreation, economy, and place in turn, set the trajectory for a sustainable city.

Topics covered in the course include: urban and community planning and design, green infrastructure, landscape architecture, risk management and communication, water quality and protection, resilience to climate change, watershed monitoring and reporting, public outreach and education, implementing change and the dynamic relationship between the watershed, waterfront, and the waterways.

Spring 2020