Community and Regional Planning

While thousands of residents of the Carolinas were fleeing the severely damaging floods caused by Hurricane Florence on September 17th, students in CRPL 472/872 “Hazard Mitigation Planning” were learning about alternative best management practices for stormwater management from Ben Higgins, PE, senior engineer with the Watershed Management Division of Lincoln’s Public Works and Utilities Department, hosted by course instructors Dr. Zhenghong Tang and Jeff Henson (MCRP 2013).

Flooding has been an issue of great importance for the City of Lincoln since the initial establishment of a settlement on the east bank of Salt Creek in 1856, eventually becoming the City of Lincoln in 1869. Since 1900 over 100 floods have been recorded in Lincoln, including 17 major floods. Floods such as these result in major inconveniences to the city, cause considerable property damage, and, sometimes, loss of life.

In the September 17th class session, Ben Higgins explained that, historically, the primary objective of stormwater management methods was to convey stormwater away from developed areas. He then described a number of contemporary methods of stormwater management that emulate natural systems by integrating a variety of dispersed treatments at multiple scales, from backyard rain gardens to district-level biodetention basins. These approaches can be integrated into new developments or used to retrofit existing community open spaces, parks, road rights-of-way and other suitable areas.

Even though flooding has a devastating impact, as Higgins pointed out, we also realize that water is a valuable resource to conserve. Therefore, the importance of incorporating contemporary alternative stormwater management practices in community and regional planning and development cannot be overemphasized.

Gordon Scholz