Shannon Van Zandt
A Texas A&M research team is investigating how coastal municipal planners can best build sustainable and healthy communities and ecosystems using “green” stormwater management methods.
City planners are responding to increasing flood threats in rapidly growing coastal communities by creating municipal plans requiring “green” stormwater infrastructure. These systems utilize vegetation, soils and other elements to reduce the amount and toxicity of stormwater.
This concept is a shift from traditional, piped drainage systems that carry trash, bacteria, heavy metals and other pollutants into nearby water bodies.
In the first study of its kind, Shannon Van Zandt, professor of urban planning, is heading a team of scholars who will evaluate how well 113 comprehensive plans in the Texas coastal region incorporate “green” infrastructure planning concepts.
They will develop a model to anticipate how political leadership and available resources affect the quality of these plans, and will also measure the plans’ effects on storm water runoff.
The two-year study is funded by the Texas Sea Grant College Program, a network of universities, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the state of Texas.
“The project’s findings will convey how storm water management and green infrastructure plans can contribute to building sustainable and healthy coastal communities and ecosystems,” said Van Zandt. “In addition, the findings can be used as practical guidelines for local planners, policymakers, and residents who develop or revise comprehensive and/or community natural hazard resiliency plans.”
As the study progresses, Van Zandt will share her team’s assessments with students in Texas A&M Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning classes. They will be asked to evaluate potential success or failure of flood hazard planning.
Van Zandt’s research team includes Texas A&M landscape architecture and urban planning faculty Galen Newman and Sierra Woodruff.
Texas Sea Grant funds research that draws on the expertise of the state’s top scientists. Its coastal extension agents and specialists in the field translate and communicate research results to stakeholders in ways that meet the real-world needs of Texans.