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Sustainable Community Oriented Stormwater Management: A Sensible Strategy for the Chesapeake Bay

Sacoby Wilson is Co-Investigator on an EPA-funded regional project focused on increasing Best Management Practices in a sensitive ecological zone

Project Summary: The goal of this project is to efficiently improve urban stormwater conditions by increasing Best Management Practice (BMP) adoption, specifically on targeted hot spots, via a Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) process. Objectives are to: 1) identify barriers to BMP adoption, 2) spatially target stormwater hot spots with appropriate BMPs, filtered by adoption likelihood, and 3) lower BMP adoption thresholds. BMP adoption barriers will be identified using semi-structured interviews, PhotoVoice, economic assessments and surveys applied to 4,000 residents of two diverse and contrasting watersheds in Maryland and the District of Columbia that drain to the Chesapeake Bay. A model of BMP adoption likelihood as a function of social factors will be developed from these results. A Diagnosis Decision Support System (DDSS), incorporating the adoption model, will be developed, calibrated and validated to target hot spots, prescribe appropriate BMPs for them and map the level of change in social factors, attitudes and behaviors (adoption barriers) needed for adoption. CBPR instruments, including Watershed Steward Academies (WSA) train-the-trainer program, social marketing and education programs, and technology transfer will be applied in cooperative partnership with three state agencies and five well-established grassroots and community associations active in the study watersheds, to lower BMP adoption thresholds and implement prescribed BMPs in hot spots. A Community Watershed Advisory Committee (CWAC), comprised of community leaders and outside experts, will be formed to review project progress and further advise the interdisciplinary PI team.

Expected outputs include: 1) data on barriers to BMP adoption in relation to social factors in diverse communities, 2) a decision tool to jointly size and target the biophysical and social efforts required for efficient and sustainable stormwater improvement, and 3) data on the effectiveness of CBPR instruments in lowering BMP adoption thresholds. Expected outcomes are improved environmental literacy, engagement and water quality in the study watersheds.