The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a new tool to improve local flood readiness. The tool is called the Flood Resilience Checklist. The Checklist offers flood readiness strategies for communities such as conserving land in flood-prone areas; directing new development to safer areas; and using green infrastructure approaches, such as installing rain gardens, to manage stormwater. 

The checklist is part of a new report, Planning for Flood Recovery and Long-Term Resilience in Vermont: Smart Growth Approaches for Disaster-Resilient Communities. The report is a result of EPA’s Smart Growth Implementation Assistance project in Vermont. In this project, EPA worked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and state agencies to help communities recover from Tropical Storm Irene. 

EPA will host a webinar on lessons learned from the Vermont project on Wednesday, August 13. The webinar will feature speakers from FEMA, the state of Vermont, and the Mad River Valley Planning District. 

To learn more about the tool and the report, click here: http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/sgia_communities.htm#rec1

To learn about the Smart Growth Implementation Assistance Program, click here:  http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/sgia.htm

To learn more about the webinar: http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/webinars/index.html


The Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI) has recognized the City of Karachi, Pakistan for its use of the Envision™ Rating System to plan a new suburb of 200,000 people. The suburb, which is currently under construction, uses Envision as a template for weaving together several different kinds of infrastructure into a single community sustainability profile.

In formally recognizing the project, DHA City Karachi (DCK), in a ceremony in Washington, D.C., ISI President and CEO William Bertera noted that this is the first known application of the Envision tool to a whole city, and that the result speaks highly of Pakistan’s commitment to sustainability.


Leading the workshop, which described the project in detail, were lead consultants Inam Ahmed Osmani, Chairman of Osmani & Company, Arif Osmani, Project Team Leader and Brig. (Retired) Muhammad Rafique, the Project Director representing the DHA City of Karachi. Professor Spiro Pollalis of Harvard University and a key resource for the project, shared his experience with sustainable cities generally, with specific reference to the Karachi project. Also present were dignitaries from the Pakistan Embassy and Karachi community leaders.

The project itself has been designed from the ground up. The design of the community, which is intended to be the first of several, takes advantage of the latest technologies for heating, cooling, managing wastes, transportation, water and energy use, each of which was modeled before construction began.


To learn more about the Envision™ sustainable infrastructure rating system, visit the ISI website at: sustainableinfrastructure.org.


Mr. Mike T. Healy, Leadership Group, APWA Center for Sustainability

FATHOM Global Water Resources, Inc.


With the introduction of “Green Infrastructure” and “LEED” construction concepts there was always some initial confusion, not only in nomenclature but also in what actually qualifies under these advancements. The same appears to be true today in grappling with the concepts of “Sustainability” and “Sustainable Practices.”


As a white-haired former public works director, I recall struggling with past concepts, especially with the misconception—both by my City Council and a percentage of the general public—that most if not all of these advancements constituted an increase in cost to achieve.  I recall many a conversation centering on initial investment and ROI.  To be honest I won some and lost some, but most importantly these discussions resulted in a change of thinking and conceptual acceptance, albeit over time.


With respect to “Sustainability” and “Sustainable Practices” I would like to have a nickel for each time I have been told by colleagues, “I understand the concept but what is it?”  Normally I respond with a series of questions like: “Are you doing more today with fewer resources than before?  How did you get there? What practices did you implement to get there?” More times than not, they discover that these are all sustainable practices when they result in an improved deployment of staff effort, fuel and energy savings, or improved technology used to achieve positive results.


A couple of the prime examples that are simple and sustainable include: Automated Meter Infrastructure (AMI) in Water Utilities as these systems eliminate the very expensive and mundane process of meter reading while also delivering real-time, system-wide consumption data for use in water production, allowing utilities to meet consumption demand while pushing production schedules to periods when electric power is less expensive.  These systems when coupled with technology also aid in water conservation by identifying leaks in a day as opposed to month(s) later.  Another simple and common sustainable investment example is the use of solar compactor trash cans in high-pedestrian use areas such as central business districts; these have been found to reduce the  amount of labor and equipment use by as much as one-third.  In short, there are many ways to achieve sustainability and you may already be making strides in this, but are unaware of your day-in and day-out achievements.


One thing that I have learned very well over my long career in public works is that we are a nimble and dynamic bunch always looking to save money, partly because we are generally a vulnerable target of budget cuts, especially during tough economic periods.  In almost all cases, we find a way to cut costs and maintain or improve service delivery.  Simply stated, without knowing it, when we make process adjustments to meet resource decline, many if not all of the process changes are indeed sustainable achievements and need to be trumpeted throughout our communities.  This promotion is exactly how the concepts of “Sustainability” and “Sustainable Programs” gain traction and understanding.


Lastly, one other constant that I know about public works professionals is that we are reluctant to toot our own horns when we achieve success.  This has to change if we are going to advance an understanding of the concept of sustainability…


Dear colleagues, celebrate your sustainable achievements and let your communities know about it! 


President Obama signed into law the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA), HR 3080, the first Water Resources bill enacted since 2007.  The new law authorizes the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to construct projects for flood control, water navigation, storm damage reduction, beach nourishment, ecological restoration, water supply and dam and levee safety.


Key provisions include limiting feasibility studies for new projects to three years and streamlining the environmental review and permitting process.  It also establishes a new pilot Water Infrastructure Finance Innovation Authority (WIFIA) to provide credit assistance to drinking water, wastewater and water resources projects and includes reforms to the State Revolving Fund (SRF) program.


In addition, the act establishes a new process for future bills to review and prioritize water resources development activities with strong Congressional oversight. It provides for increased expenditures from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund to reduce the backlog of port and harbor projects and requires a review of possible ways to increase revenue collections for financing projects on the inland waterways.

The House and Senate overwhelmingly approved the legislation.  The vote in the Senate was 91-7 and 412-4 in the House of Representatives. 


During the signing ceremony on June 10 the President praised Congress for coming together to pass the legislation in a bipartisan manner and urged lawmakers to pass a transportation bill before the highway trust fund becomes insolvent before the end of the summer.


To read the full text of the law, click here

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