Smart, Sustainable, and Equitable Green Stormwater Systems in Urban Communities
Lead PI:
Virginia Smith

Urban communities are increasingly including Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) in their watershed management plans to manage stormwater in cities. Stormwater programs are scientifically limited by a lack of knowledge of the longevity of GSI, how real-time adaptive control can improve performance, and lack of process for using collected data in new GSI designs and policy. Further, there is no scientifically robust method to consider social equity in GSI design and planning. To overcome these challenges, and achieve sustainable stormwater management, solutions must use other available technologies in new ways that are co-created with community members woven into the planning-design-implementation process. The project hypothesizes that this challenge can be met using smart systems that can: 1) create and expand opportunities for GSI, 2) improve the sustainable function of these systems, and 3) address community infrastructure needs and preferences to overcome issues of inequity.

The main objective of this planning proposal is to develop a roadmap to combat the community-stormwater challenge. This project will accomplish this by forming a task force, Community Science Work Group, of a cross-disciplinary team of researchers, government agencies, community and industry partners to create a roadmap to develop a set of computer technologies and tools to design smart, sustainable, community driven, equitable GSI systems for urban communities. This will be accomplished through continuously engaging with community stakeholders to incorporate preferences and technical and societal interactions (e.g., GSI co-benefits) at all levels. This project will establish channels to build and engage a project team for a future proposal to effectively use technology in urban environments to respond to the stated community needs. This current project will also explore if emerging computing technologies can help meet community-stormwater challenges through an iterative stakeholder engagement process, which would lead to new science in urban stormwater systems and a new avenue for application of computer technology. This project will broaden community understanding and engagement in GSI infrastructure, increase GSI ecosystem services and community resilience, and ultimately improve the urban environment and contribute to social equity. Through tightly intertwined cross-disciplinary research and outreach goals, this project provides a transformative benefit to society by providing a fair and open community driven platform to improve cities’ efforts to effectively address federal water quality and safety needs and establish new frontiers for urban sustainability. This planning project will serve as a vital start to build a platform to alleviate the community-stormwater challenge.

Virginia Smith
Dr. Smith is a Civil Engineer, whose projects have focused on urban sediment transport dynamics, sustainable stormwater management, and applying data management and artificial intelligence to water resource engineering challenges. Dr. Smith has overseen and worked on numerous water and natural resource projects across the US and around the world, including projects in Asia, Africa, the South Pacific, and Afghanistan. She has leveraged her experiences in her research focusing on rivers, floodplains, stormwater, and flooding dynamics, particularly in urban settings. Dr. Smith is an Associate Professor of Water Resources in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. She received her PhD studying hydrology, fluvial geomorphology, and sediment transport at the Jackson School of Geosciences at the University of Texas at Austin (UT). Prior to earning her PhD Dr. Smith she received a master’s degree in civil engineering from UT and her BS from Georgia Institute of Technology in civil and environmental engineering.
Performance Period: 10/01/2022 - 09/30/2024
Institution: Villanova University
Award Number: 2228035