UNL team to promote green infrastructure in Omaha

UNL team to promote green infrastructure in Omaha

Calendar Icon Jul 13, 2012      Person Bust Icon By Carole Wilbeck | Engineering     RSS Feed  RSS  -  Submit a Story

The Environmental Protection Agency will support a team led by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to evaluate the effectiveness of the Saddle Hills neighborhood's green infrastructure in metropolitan Omaha.

            UNL and partners, including the City of Omaha and the Nebraska Forest Service, will assess green infrastructure practices by creating a water quality assessment database and developing a stormwater mobile application for smartphones and mobile devices in two watersheds -- the Little Papillion Creek Basin and Cole Creek Basin within the Omaha city limits. The application will allow users, such as local residents, youths, master gardeners and city staff, to learn about ways to reduce stormwater runoff.

          "The key outcomes of this project will be increasing local and regional scientific evidence on green infrastructure practices, developing strategies in improving urban water quality and improving effectiveness in disseminating information to target audiences," said Zhenghong Tang, assistant professor of community and regional planning in the College of Architecture and the principal investigator of the project. "This project helps meet the EPA strategic goals in improving water quality at the watershed scales and restoring watershed ecosystems. It also directly benefits the working priorities in the city of Omaha's stormwater program."

            Other project leaders with Tang are Xu Li, assistant professor of civil engineering, and Steven Rodie, associate professor of agronomy and horticulture.

            "Green infrastructure and stormwater management strategies play a critical role in water quality improvement by reducing runoff that carries multiple contaminants into streams and rivers," said Karl Brooks, EPA regional administrator. "The project will empower community residents and land owners to look at stormwater as an asset rather than a waste product, and will increase public awareness and grassroots participation through workshops about urban water quality."

            The funding of $59,876 is part of EPA's Urban Waters program, which supports communities in their efforts to access, improve and benefit from urban waters and surrounding land.

            Many urban waterways have been polluted for years by runoff from city streets and contamination from abandoned industrial facilities. Healthy and accessible urban waters can help grow local businesses and enhance educational, economic, recreational, employment and social opportunities in nearby communities. By promoting public access to urban waterways, EPA will help communities become active participants in restoring urban waters while improving and protecting their neighborhoods.

            EPA's Urban Waters program supports the goals and principles of the Urban Waters Federal Partnership, a partnership of 12 federal agencies working to reconnect urban communities with their waterways by improving coordination among federal agencies and collaborating with community-led revitalization efforts.

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