Baltimore Ecosystem Study Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2011 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

Socio-ecological revitalization of an urban watershed
Groffman, Peter
Co-Authors: Peter M. Groffman, Guy Hager, Kenneth T. Belt, Kimberly Burgess, J. Morgan Grove, Bess Caplan, Desiree Shelly, Mary Hardcastle, Steward T.A. Pickett

Abstract: Older, underserved (economically troubled) urban neighborhoods present multiple challenges to urban planners and managers concerned with environmental quality, socio-economic vitality and education. Here we present results from an initiative in Baltimore, MD (the W263 project) where water quality improvements were rooted in a bio-geo-socio-chemical framework that combined implementation of water quality best management practices (BMPs) with assessment of changes in multiple aspects of human perception and behavior and education programs. Results suggest that BMP implementation that is rooted in a bio-geo-socio-chemical framework can bring significant improvements to water quality and the quality of life in urban neighborhoods with reductions in nitrogen and phosphorus runoff, increases in outdoor recreation activities and improvements in student environmental literacy and performance. Many challenges remain however. Solving water quality problems in these neighborhoods requires an emphasis on "retrofits" that are expensive to implement and maintain given aging and failing infrastructure which contributes to hydrologic complexity and reduces BMP effectiveness in uncontrolled ways.