Tag Archives: infrastructure

APA sets principles for federal infrastructure investments

road06-800pxEverybody’s talking about infrastructure. The Michigan Association of Planning has made it a focus of their policy planning for the past two years. Governor Rick Snyder’s 21st Century Infrastructure Commission said the state needs to spend $4 billion a year more than it currently does just to reach the national average of infrastructure spending.

The American Planning Association has reacted to President Trump’s desire to improve the country’s infrastructure by establishing nine principles to guide the efforts of Congress and the administration. A new federal infrastructure program should:

  • Serve multiple modes and types of infrastructure
  • Be driven by local visions and strong regional planning
  • Address long-term funding sustainability
  • Harness private sector investment and creativity to advance and protect the public interest
  • Consider key factors of location and leverage
  • Promote access
  • Advance opportunity for all
  • Embrace and support innovation
  • Make communities safer and more resilient

A public health crisis resulted in a pioneering GIS project

By Charlotte Wilson

Water (blue) & sewer (red) lines in Sylvan Township. Click to enlarge.

Water (blue) & sewer (red) lines in Sylvan Township. (Draft. Subject to change) Click to enlarge.

After an outbreak of hepatitis caused by a sudden sewage pipe burst in 1984, Kenton County, KY came to the unpleasant realization that their infrastructure had not been mapped. Over 30 years the county blazed a trail and is now a respected model of best practices in geographic information systems (GIS).

Many of today’s communities face Kenton County’s dilemma. When the Flint water crises hit, other Michigan cities woke to the potential problem and couldn’t find out if their own pipes contained lead. While you may never have a crisis like Kenton County, mapping your infrastructure provides important support for planning, public health, safety, maintenance, and replacement. It can give you visual tools to explain your community’s infrastructure needs and gain public support for your repair and replacement plans.

The attached maps display the sanitary sewer and water maps from our client Sylvan Township. As an addition to their master plan, the township now has an additional resource to aid in planning future developments. (These maps are drafts and are subject to change in the final master plan.)

(Contact Charlotte for information about Carlisle/Wortman Associates’ GIS services.)

Parks and urban land could solve stormwater challenges

Chris Nordstrom, PLA, ASLA

For the 14th consecutive month, the monthly global temperature record has been broken. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), June’s combined average temperature was 1.62 degrees above the 20th century average. Only two spots on the globe had lower than average temperatures; no land areas experienced record cold readings for the month. It has been 40 years since the planet averaged below normal temperatures.

Whether you feel climate change is man-made or just a natural cycle, there is little debate that it’s happening. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and the Great Lakes Integrated Sciences Assessments Program (GLISA) report that average temperatures in Michigan have increased, with the increases most noticeable during the winter seasons. This summer’s drought aside, precipitation has also increased across most of lower Michigan, primarily during the winter and fall months. Michigan experienced an increase in annual precipitation of 4.5% during the 1981-2010 period, although there was significant variability across the state; southeast Michigan saw an increase of 9.5 percent, while the Upper Peninsula fell 2.8 percent. The average number of extreme weather events, where precipitation exceeded one inch in a 24 hour period, increased by over 13 percent.

These increases in precipitation pose serious problems for developed areas around the world. Extreme weather events can overwhelm stormwater systems, causing flooding, sewage overflows, and erosion-related damage. Cities with crumbling infrastructures are facing escalating costs and dwindling budgets as they attempt to find cost-effective solutions to addressing these challenges.

Might parks and open spaces compliment if not outright replace existing stormwater treatment systems and facilities? The Trust for Public Land (TPL) recently released a report presenting several case studies where park facilities were used as stormwater management facilities. In some cases, the parks spurred hundreds of millions of dollars in investment in the surrounding area. Closer to home, the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources launched a program to study the use of vacant lots in Detroit to create bioretention gardens help retain and clean stormwater.

At a time when park and municipal utility department find themselves fighting for precious funding, these innovative solutions could form the basis of a mutually beneficial partnership.