As urban areas and developments in rural areas continue to expand, stormwater runoff and its management are becoming increasingly critical issues, according to officials with the Jefferson County Cooperative Extension Service.
The University of Arkansas System Agriculture Division's Cooperative Extension Service will address these issues and more during a webinar on Thursday: "Sustainable Solutions to Stormwater Management."
The webinar is free to join, and is presented in partnership with Construction Eco Services of Jefferson, La. The webinar is scheduled to run 1:30-2:30 p.m. CDT, according to a news release from the Agriculture Division.
The program will focus on the design, construction and maintenance considerations of green infrastructure. The educational effort is funded in part by a grant from the Arkansas Division of Natural Resources and the Environmental Protection Agency, aimed at expanding green infrastructure.
Anthony Kendrick, a project manager with Construction Eco Services, said development philosophies such as "low impact development" have become increasingly popular to reduce detention volume, maximize land for development, and improve water quality.
"The most significant barrier to implementing this design approach is maintenance and premature sedimentation during construction," Kendrick said. "Lessons learned and feedback from the designers, contractors, and maintenance contractors must be incorporated into the overall design process, creating a constant feedback loop that strives to improve functionality."
Kendrick said that with green infrastructure innovations, new approaches to the building process need to be adopted. For example, permeable pavement and bioretention systems -- two increasingly common tools for mitigating stormwater runoff -- can easily become clogged during construction.
"To reduce the inherent risks of these systems, designers can use performance-based specifications that make these water quality systems 'contractor proof,'" Kendrick said.
Kevin Harris, an agent with the Jefferson County Extension Service whose focus is on urban runoff, said his office has several partners in fighting the problem of litter and stormwater runoff, including Jefferson County, Pine Bluff and White Hall, and the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.
Harris said he also goes into schools to educate youngsters on being responsible with litter. He said the Pine Bluff area will be seeing many more visitors with the opening of Saracen Casino Resort and having litter-free thoroughfares would be the ideal.
"What people see is what people think of a community," Harris said. "As far as litter goes, we've got a ways to go."
Harris also encouraged the community to be cautious when doing simple tasks such as fertilizing a lawn or washing a car. Unlike something that goes down the drain inside a house and is treated, excess fertilizer and soap suds drain into streams and lakes where they can harm fish and other organisms. Consequently, he said to make sure chemicals are used in correct amounts and in correct ways, and care is taken to prevent water pollution.
The upcoming webinar will examine a series of representative projects and take a "case study approach" to evaluating the design and construction of green infrastructure systems, he said.
"In addition to the design and construction methods, we will explore how maintenance can extend the life of these systems and keep them performing for years to come," Kendrick said. "In this webinar, participants will learn more about the concepts of LID and GI, rationale for their use, and considerations for design, construction, and maintenance."
John Pennington, extension water quality educator for the Agriculture Division, said the program is intended for engineers, planners, environmental consultants, landscape architects, water quality educators, extension agents, elected officials, state and municipal officials and anyone else with an interest in learning more about managing and improving stormwater management.
"Green infrastructure solutions can be applied on different scales, from landscaping to regional development," Pennington said. "At the local level, green infrastructure practices include rain gardens, bioswales, permeable pavers, green roofs, green walls and rainwater harvesting systems. At the largest scale, the connection, preservation, integration and restoration of built and natural landscapes such as parks and trails, and forests, floodplains and wetlands are beneficial components of green infrastructure."
Participation is free, but registration is required. To register, visit www.uaex.edu/stormwater-webinar.
To learn more about extension programs in Arkansas, contact alocal Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit www.uaex.edu. Follow the agency on Twitter at @UAEX_edu.
Information for this article was contributed by Byron Tate.