Bay City & Bangor Township, mid-Michigan floods, June 24, 2017. Credit: Kip Cronk/Michigan Sea Grant
CPO’s Water Risk Team (WaRT) and the National Sea Grant Office have co-developed a funding competition to support Sea Grant program projects aimed at improving the resilience of flood-vulnerable communities through equitable and inclusive stormwater and floodplain management. Water infrastructure improvement is necessary in the coming decade to prevent flooding along the shores of and within the Great Lakes watershed. Especially vulnerable are communities that have been historically marginalized due to social and economic disadvantages.
The competition is open to Sea Grant programs in the Great Lakes region. Proposals will be accepted through June 8, 2021.
A recent workshop hosted by CPO revealed the following common themes for many of those communities:
- Aging and/or failing infrastructure is often more prevalent in low-income areas and communities of color due to historic injustices such as redlining. Achieving equitable levels of service is more challenging in those areas due to lack of affordability as well as lack of funds to replace aging infrastructure.
- Social and economic vulnerability must be considered as well as infrastructure needs to gain a coherent understanding of climate vulnerability and risk for homes and whole communities.
- Equitable stormwater planning should involve trusted neighborhood leaders, champions, and ambassadors.
Water and climate professionals implement better strategies when they understand community sensitivities, historic perspectives, and needs; they also are successful when community members are part of articulating the problem in the beginning of an activity, and maintain relationships throughout the activity so that they are an important part of the solution. When communities understand, take pride in, and feel a sense of ownership for projects that protect their interests, they are more likely to support the long-term maintenance of those projects. This is true for green and gray infrastructure approaches to stormwater management, for example.
In an effort to address the inequity of water resources and support disadvantaged communities, the NSGO, in partnership with CPO, is seeking proposals for projects that advance the following priorities:
- Identify vulnerable communities, especially those that have suffered from flooding; and determine which climate-related hazards need to be addressed in those communities.
- Identify utilities in those communities that have capital planning needs.
- Incorporate inclusive planning opportunities, such as community input to city comprehensive planning, emergency preparedness, and developing climate resilience plans.
- Work with local partners, preferably by combining efforts. For example, by establishing multi-community work teams to:
- Support frontline communities (i.e., those with vulnerable populations or that have fewer resources available to address adaptation and resilience).
- Establish cohorts of communities with shared adaptation goals. For example, pair communities with varying experience levels.
- Sharing results with other similar communities, stormwater management utilities and/or districts.