2015 Award Winners
(click title to view presentation on project)
“Integrating Art and Science to Build Community Support for Stormwater Management”
Upon learning that Boston Public Schools (“BPS”) was developing a 10-year Master Plan for their 133 facilities, the Commission saw an opportunity for collaboration. Many Boston public schools are located within the tributary areas for the Upper/Middle and Lower Charles River and, as part of the Master Planning process, BPS will assess the physical condition of each of their facilities. The Commission is now working with the BPS Facilities Management Department to design and provide funding for the construction of Green Infrastructure (GI) at five Boston public schools. The goal of this collaboration is to make GI part of the BPS 10-year Master Plan so that GI techniques are considered for implementation at BPS facilities as they are updated. In addition to identifying suitable locations for GI at the five schools, this project also takes into account school needs. For example, in school yards with large paved areas and little shade, we are recommending GI that incorporates vegetated surfaces and trees. At schools where busing/traffic patterns prevent students from playing outside, we are proposing GI that acts as a barrier between students and vehicle traffic to help create protected play spaces.
In addition to educating BPS about GI design and providing the Facilities Department with design documents that can be applied to future facility updates, educational curricula to accompany the GI features is also under development for 5th and 7th grades that can be used with GI features at any school. The curricula have been coordinated with the new Draft Massachusetts Science and Technology/Engineering Standards, so they can be taught in any 5th or 7th grade classroom.
A long term goal of this project is to help BPS become familiar with GI design, construction and maintenance so that their Facilities Department can complete their own GI projects in the future. It is imperative that other city agencies integrate GI into their re/development projects to improve water quality in the Charles River.
Shelburne, Vermont is a small town of about 7,100 residents located on the eastern shores of Lake Champlain. The town is subject to a multitude of stormwater regulations including the Vermont MS4 permit, a stormwater TMDL for Munroe Brook, and a phosphorus TMDL for Lake Champlain. Compliance with these regulations requires significant staff time and capital investment. In order to comply with these complex regulations the Town began working with the City of South Burlington Stormwater Utility (SBSU) in 2015. South Burlington is an adjacent community that has developed significant expertise managing stormwater due to its development of the State’s first stormwater utility in 2005. In 2015, the Town worked with SBSU to determine the tasks needed to complete relative to the services that SBSU could provide. Through this process, it became clear that the SBSU could provide many services that the Town needed much quicker and at a lower cost than if the Town were to undertake these activities on its own. In addition, the community learned more about the stormwater requirements that the Town was subject to and this built the political support necessary in Shelburne to increase the funding available for stormwater management.
The Town and SBSU are currently developing a contract that will allow SBSU to complete certain stormwater tasks for the Town. Tasks in the contract include street sweeping, storm drain cleaning, stormwater system inspection and inventory using GIS, stormwater plan review for local private sector development projects, management of State stormwater permits, and much more. In addition to increasing the funding and political support available for stormwater management in Shelburne, the agreement allows SBSU to increase the number employees it has on staff and have those new costs not be entirely borne by South Burlington stormwater rate payers. Many of the MS4 communities in VT are located adjacent to each other, so the Town and SBSU hope that this relationship can serve as a model for other communities struggling to comply with stormwater requirements. Vermont does not have County governance, but the opportunity for inter-municipal collaboration exists in the region.
Our idea was storm drain stenciling on steroids. We knew that stencils without context, a vivid and large scale public presence, and a strong conceptual framework for what these stencils convey, meant opportunities for meaningful understanding of storm water pollution are missed. The “Where Does Your Water Go?” program was created by United Water (Suez North America), Connecticut River Watershed Council, Enchanted Circle Theater, and the Hitchcock Center for the Environment. With the initial endorsement of Mayor Alex Morse, the team created an 11-day program for every 5th grade student in Holyoke directly aligned with Common Core Standards that used hands-on demonstrations with aquatic insects, watershed hydrology, groundwater flow, and a functioning scale-model of a wastewater treatment plant and collection system to convey the science, engineering, and law of water resources. This topical material was then integrated into art and poetry by the students. Because this partnership is built on a commitment to power of all disciplines to foster understanding, the following 5 days were designed as arts-integration exercises that gave the students the opportunity to create original poetry and art that demonstrated their understanding and appreciation for their water, their community, and how storm water and storm drains affected the health of their waters. Every student created a haiku poem and illustration for a storm drain that would include a compelling image and statement to prevent storm water pollution. Four images and poems were selected for recognition at a community celebration by the Mayor. The four winning images were transferred to storm drains in high visibility areas of the city in order to act as on-going messages to the residents and visitors to Holyoke that preventing storm water pollution is everyone’s responsibility.
We knew we had succeeded in getting not only school children engaged, but the wider community, when the celebration and recognition event brought over 100 residents to hear the poems, a musical performance, and the unveiling of the four winning storm drain art pieces. Enchanted Circle Theater, working with Holyoke Public Works, has completed the four storm drain art installations at City Hall, local parks and high traffic areas where they are receiving widespread attention. The program received good media exposure including on WGBY’s Connecting Point show.