Category Archives: Environmental

People of all ages want local sustainability

By Chris Nordstrom PLA, ASLA

According to a survey completed by the National Recreation and Park Association, over 83% of Americans 18 years or older feel it is important for local governments to prioritize environmental initiatives. Families with children (89%) and Millennials (79%) were the strongest proponents of sustainability. Here’s the NRPA report.

The survey results suggest that communities would do well to look into their own sustainability-based practices. Park and trail development, community level recycling and green infrastructure development all require significant constituent buy-in to be successful. Prudent fiscal management will always be a priority at any level of government. The challenge is identifying methods of incorporating sustainability in a fashion that not only is good for the environment, but ultimately ends up saving the community money.

CWA can help communities meet their sustainability goals by recommending best practices, pursuing grant funds, and identifying opportunities for incorporating green infrastructure into municipal systems. Contact us to find out how we can help you.

Cities’ flood mitigation innovations outpace feds

Every dollar spent on flood mitigation saves $4 in recovery costs. Cities around the U.S. are planning for these disasters although federal spending remains heavily weighted towards post-disaster services instead of prevention, as we see in this article from Governing.com.

After a devastating 1984 flood, Tulsa, OK established systems and procedures that reduced future flood damages. They

  • Established a stormwater management utility
  • Used nature-based solutions for flood control along a critical stream
  • Established a stormwater utility fee for hard surfaces
  • Used open areas for detention
  • Removed structures in floodplains.

In 2013, Boulder fared better than other Colorado communities because they had tied drainage improvements to developments and established funding to buy at-risk properties.

Washington D.C. issued the nation’s first municipal environmental impact bonds. In North Carolina, Charlotte-Mecklenburg County uses storm water fees to relocate buildings and encourage people to move out of flood-prone areas.

Vacant Detroit land could reduce stormwater run-off

Here’s an article giving more details about the Detroit green infrastructure our Chris Nordstrom wrote about a couple days ago.

Hazard mitigation plan thwarts Mother Nature

Estral Beach Aerial-smallEstral Beach Village, on the shores of Lake Erie, had already endured flooding, both along the lake and its tributaries. Leaders knew they needed to get ahead of future problems and didn’t see the answers in the state or county hazard mitigation plans so they used a $10,000 grant to hire Carlisle/Wortman Associates to develop their own plan.

Beyond flooding, the planning process investigated all the possible hazards the community might face — tornados, extreme weather, power outages and even earthquakes – and used a quantitative system to prioritize them.

The process resulted in four goals:

  1. Reduce risks by improving local planning and regulations.
  2. Reduce exposure to natural hazards through structural and infrastructural activities, improvements and projects.
  3. Reduce impacts through warning, response and recovery activities implemented during and after a disaster.
  4. Improve public education and awareness regarding natural hazard preparation, response and recovery.

The plan goes beyond ways to recover from a disaster. It focuses on preventive mitigation through public education, wise decision making and disaster-resistant building and development practices.

While flooding remained the top risk for Estral Beach Village, some of the prescribed actions will help with other possible dangers:

  • Debris clearing
  • Emergency responder training
  • Public information campaigns
  • Master plan updates
  • Code enforcement

The village also recognized it needed backup generators for pump houses, air conditioning and a backup power generator at city hall and NOAA weather radios.

For more information about Carlisle/Wortman Associates’s hazard plan services, contact John Enos: jenos@cwaplan.com, 734-662-2200.

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An overview of oil and gas regulation in Michigan

By Sally M. Elmiger, AICP, LEED AP

fracking-web-shadowOil and gas production has been occurring in Michigan since the 1930s. As technological advances are made, more oil and gas can be economically extracted from the various geologic formations throughout the state. One such advance, hydraulic fracturing or “fracking,” has captured a lot of attention of both residents and public officials. Municipal leaders have heard from concerned citizens about this process, and have been asked to limit any potential impacts in their community. But what can local governments do to regulate this industry? This paper provides an overall look at how oil and gas drilling and production are regulated in Michigan. It also discusses the current, and still evolving, regulatory tools that are available to local governments. The information presented here is intended as a general discussion of the topic. Any decisions made by a local government regarding the regulation of oil and gas facilities in their community should be carefully evaluated by a municipal attorney.

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