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THE CONDUIT : The Civil & Environmental Engineering Department Newsletter

FALL / WINTER 2009-10

Featured articles

As climate changes, team explores new ways to manage stormwater

Environmental road trip: Rating system to assess 'green' highways

Professionals in education: Profiles of four adjunct faculty members

The 13th annual CEE Golf Outing!

Tight-knit steel bridge team aims for the top

Partnership produces water-run scooter

Middle East air quality study bridges borders

Regular Features

Message from the Chair

Focus on new faculty:
Carol Menassa

Alumni News


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As climate changes,
team explores new ways to manage stormwater

Ken Potter and David Liebl

Ken Potter (left) and David Liebl
(View larger image)

Decorative initial cap In recent years, climate change has sparked more intense rainfalls and severe floods—both of which have displaced residents and caused millions of dollars in damage across the United States and around the world.

Here in Wisconsin, Professor Ken Potter views those events as an opportunity to engage stakeholders—people who design, regulate and manage water systems—in university research that could help them make more informed water-related decisions.

Potter is leading an interdisciplinary team of researchers who, in part, are analyzing climate model projections for Wisconsin to improve stormwater-related infrastructure design and management methods. Such infrastructure includes storm sewers, stormwater detention ponds, bridges, and wastewater treatment plants. “I think flooding problems are going to continue,” says Potter. “The public is very frustrated. They want to see things designed better. When things are underdesigned, it’s the homeowner who gets stuck.”

The team is combining traditional university-based research with regular meetings that seek input from water engineers, regulators and managers. Potter hopes this two-way problem-solving approach leads not only to positive policy and methods changes, but also establishes a roadmap for similar collaborative efforts across the country. “This interdisciplinary process ensures that we use leading-edge university research to develop relevant, up-to-date stormwater infrastructure design tools and strategies our stakeholders are willing and able to put into practice,” says Potter.

Potter’s collaborators include Engineering Professional Development Professor David Liebl, Agronomy and Environmental Studies Assistant Professor Chris Kucharik, and Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences Senior Scientist Stephen Vavrus and Assistant Scientist David Lorenz. A $247,000 grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is funding the project.

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Date last modified: Monday, 22-February-2010
Date created: 22-February-2010