2024 Achieving Climate Resilience Through Water Symposium

Welcome to SBN’s first-ever Achieving Climate Resilience Through Water Symposium!

On behalf of the entire team at the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia (SBN), we’d like to extend our gratitude for your participation in our first-ever Achieving Climate Resilience Through Water Symposium held at the Science History Institute in Philadelphia, PA!

Greater Philadelphia is at an exciting inflection point regarding climate resiliency. Through the City of Philadelphia’s Green City, Clean Water initiative, our local waterways have been made cleaner and neighborhoods greener through projects that drastically reduce pollution from stormwater and combined sewer overflows in Philadelphia and our region. Today’s symposium aims to shine a light on innovative concepts and projects and explore creative solutions and collaborative approaches to water management in the face of climate change.

Throughout the daylong symposium, attendees will have three tracks with twelve sessions in total to choose from, being led by content experts, leaders in their fields, and government officials about a range of topics from inter-municipal collaboration and stormwater utilities to innovative technologies and approaches to addressing water challenges to novel financing pathways and techniques. PDH credits will also be provided for attendees of sessions for Pennsylvania and New Jersey professionals provided by JMT.
See below for a list of tracks, their sessions, and the experts and thought leaders leading these discussions working to advance clean water throughout Greater Philadelphia!

Opening Plenary: Meeting Urban Stormwater Resiliency and Water Quality Challenges via Cross-Sectoral Collaborations

Urban flooding and quality poses risks to human health and safety, causes extensive property damage, exposes vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure and leads to the degradation of adjacent waters. In coastal cities the risks are compounded when chronic and extreme rainfall coincides with storm surges and high tides. With projected increase in frequency and intensity of extreme storm events associated with climate change, these problems will become even more acute for urban cities especially in underserved areas while compounding impacts result in challenges for meeting water quality standards. Funding for the investments often requires increasing water or stormwater charges and securing Federal dollars.  Responding to this myriad of challenges will require dynamic planning with holistic and integrated water management approaches, including blue-green infrastructure strategies, that provide equitable solutions to meet both community and environmental needs.  Additionally, this will leverage co-benefits to communities by reducing urban heat island impact, cleaning the air, capturing carbon emissions, and improving water quality through reducing combined sewer overflows. Collaboration and partnerships with public, academic institutions and other stakeholders is also critically important for introducing innovation and for training a well-equipped workforce to meet current and future challenges.   

For this panel discussion, we have gathered utilities, State and City representatives (NJ, NY, PA) and practitioners together to share examples of blue-green strategies and cross-sectoral collaborations that have helped to address urban climate resiliency and water quality challenges particularly as this relates to inland flooding from chronic and extreme storm events. The panel discussion will also focus on how the distributed infrastructure is addressing water quality challenges in receiving water bodies for CSO and MS4 communities with a focus on environmental justice. We will also take a deep dive into successful partnerships and lessons learned from communities to innovate and develop new solutions when working toward urban climate resilience. 

Speakers: Pinar Balci, PhD, NYC Water Lead & Deputy East Water Lead, WSP; Biswarup Guha, MS PE CPM, Research Scientist, NJDEP; Marc Cammarata, Deputy Water Commissioner, PWD; Caleb Stratton, Assistant Business Administrator & Chief Resiliency Officer, City of Hoboken, NJ

Session Time: 9:20 – 10:20 AM

Location: Ullyot Room 

Pinar Balci, NYC Water Lead and Deputy East Water Lead, WSP

Dr. Balci has recently been appointed as the NYC Water Lead and Deputy East Water Lead at WSP. Over the past decade, Dr. Balci spearheaded major infrastructure projects while serving as the Assistant Commissioner of the Bureau of Environmental Planning & Analysis at the NYC DEP. She orchestrated the nation’s largest green infrastructure and innovative cloudburst management program with a $3.5 Billion budget to reduce CSOs, improving water quality in New York Harbor while bolstering resilience in environmental justice communities. Prior to joining NYC DEP, Pinar held multiple management positions at the SFWMD, where she was responsible for planning and providing policy, permitting oversight to an array of Everglades Restoration and Capital Projects.

In addition to her project achievements, Dr. Balci continues to elevate industry standards through numerous advocacy groups. She serves on the Water Research Foundation Research Advisory Committee, Former Board Member of the WateReuse Association and Executive Committee, Advisory Council Member of National Green Infrastructure Certification Program. She continues to serve as Project Advisory Committee Member of numerous WRF projects and contributed to the National Assessment of Stormwater Capture Reuse with Pacific Institute. She is a doctoral faculty member at CUNY Graduate School and teaches classes on climate resilient cities and integrated water systems management.

Marc Cammarata, Deputy Water Commissioner, PWD

Marc Cammarata is the Deputy Water Commissioner for Planning & Environmental Services with the Philadelphia Water Department.  His responsibilities include the integration, direction and management of the Department’s planning initiatives and environmental programs focused on wet weather compliance, source water protection, green stormwater infrastructure implementation, facility and linear asset renewal and replacement, ecological restoration, laboratory services, energy, and climate mitigation and adaptation.  He has over 25 years of experience in water resources engineering and environmental planning.

Biswarup Guha, MS PE CPM, Research Scientist, NJDEP

Mr. Biswarup Guha is a Certified Public Manager and Professional Engineer with more than 20 years of water resources management experience. He is currently the rule manager and team lead for the Surface and Ground Water Quality Standards at New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection which is responsible for developing and promulgating surface and ground water quality standards for NJDEP. Mr. Guha has orchestrated several novel water quality related research projects and spearheaded the automation of the surface water quality assessment used for the 303(d) listing and developing New Jersey’s water quality integrated report.

Caleb Stratton, AICP PP CFM, Assistant Business Administrator & Chief Resiliency Officer, City of Hoboken

Caleb Stratton is the Chief Resilience Officer and Assistant Business Administrator for Hoboken, NJ. He directs the delivery of the city’s capital and infrastructure programs which include construction of the $392,000,000 Rebuild by Design Hudson River (RBD-HR) flood risk reduction project. He’s proud of a recent municipal re-organization that codified the Department of Climate Action and Innovation, positioning the most capable members of the city hall team to inform modernization and sustainability. He holds two professional certifications through the American Planning Association (AICP) and the American Society of Floodplain Managers (CFM) as well as a license by the State of New Jersey as a Professional Planner (PP). He has an undergraduate degree in Urban Planning from the University at Albany, and a Masters in Sustainability from the Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture.  

Caleb Stratton will also join the session, “Navigating Green Infrastructure Maintenance with Capitalized Establishment Costs,” later in the program.

Track 1: Green Stormwater Management: New Approaches, Operations & Maintenance 

Session 1: Leveraging Ecological Restoration for Green Stormwater Management

This presentation will highlight an innovative technique for green stormwater management by utilizing stream and floodplain restoration as a stormwater management practice (SMP). The presentation will open with a detailed review of the historic and current anthropogenic impacts to our stream corridors that have negatively affected peak flow rates, groundwater recharge, and water quality within our watersheds. A major focus of the presentation will be a review of the nature-based design philosophy aimed at restoring our stream corridors and providing ecological uplift while also managing stormwater runoff from land development. This discussion will also include an overview of the modeling procedures that are used to calculate and quantify the stormwater management improvements. Triple bottom line benefits achieved by this green stormwater management technique will also be explored during this presentation, including: flood reduction and attenuation, groundwater recharge, water quality improvement and sediment reduction, infrastructure protection, aesthetic enhancement, habitat improvement, and recreational/educational opportunities. Finally, several case studies will be shared to highlight the implementation and success of projects that have leveraged this innovative technique.

Speaker: Tyler Charles, PE, Water Resources Engineer, JMT

Session Time10:30 – 11:15 AM

Location: Ullyot Room


Tyler Charles, Water Resources Engineer, JMT

Tyler Charles is a water resources engineer specializing in ecological restoration within urban settings. He has over 12 years of experience providing engineering design and oversight for stream and floodplain restoration design, geomorphic assessments and monitoring, watershed assessments, hydrologic and hydraulic analyses, environmental permitting, and construction oversight. He has significant field experience and professional training in applying fluvial geomorphic principles to the assessment, design and construction of stream and floodplain restoration projects in the Mid-Atlantic region. Tyler has provided engineering design and permitting for several innovative projects utilizing floodplain restoration as a stormwater BMP in Pennsylvania and Maryland.


Session 2: Municipal Stormwater Retrofits: The unique planning, design, construction, budgeting and maintenance challenges

As towns and cities across the country seek to implement green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) retrofit projects there are a series of unique challenges that differ from managing wet weather on private site development projects. Understanding and addressing these challenges will improve the outcomes, impact, and cost effectiveness of these projects.

GSI retrofit projects are often smaller in scope, are shoe-horned into small spaces, impact existing infrastructure temporarily, have more unknowns regarding location of existing utilities and soil conditions, lack sufficient pretreatment and screening, miss opportunities to unlock to triple bottom line co-benefits of GSI, are in many cases installed by contractors less familiar with the nuances of GSI, are difficult to budget for especially when the retrofit is not part of a larger scope of work, and lack understanding of long term maintenance needs and associated budgets. 

This presentation seeks to identify many of the key challenges associated with GSI retrofit projects, provide simple guidance to designers and program managers on how to plan for and account for them from planning through to post installation O&M, and include a series of small GSI retrofit case studies. The presentation will encourage listeners to adapt their processes to account for the many challenges and to work collaboratively to improve GSI retrofit outcomes.

Speaker: Rob Woodman, PE, CPESC, NGICP, LEED Green Associate, Director, Engineering & Green Stormwater Infrastructure, Ferguson

Session Time: 11:20 – 12:20 PM

Location: Ullyot Room


Rob Woodman, PE, CPESC, NGICP, LEED Green Associate, Director, Engineering & Green Stormwater Infrastructure, Ferguson

Rob graduated in Civil Engineering in Australia. He spent the first 10 years as design and project engineer for a private engineering consulting firm, gaining experience and expanding his knowledge of the industry on a wide variety of civil and stormwater engineering design projects for private and public sector clients throughout New England. In 2014 Rob took an opportunity to leverage his expertise in innovative stormwater and green infrastructure treatment systems and transitioned from consulting to the product, solution and innovation side of the industry. Rob now serves Ferguson Enterprises as Director of Engineering and Green Stormwater Infrastructure and supports engineers, landscape architects and designers on site development and green infrastructure systems overcoming design and permitting challenges with a suite of innovative solutions. He is a Registered Professional Engineer in Maine and Pennsylvania, NGICP certified, a CPESC, LEED Green Associate, Maine DEP Certified Stormwater Inspector, an ASCE member, and entrepreneur.


Session 3: Circular Soils: Waste-Based Materials for Green Infrastructure Soils

Can engineered soils, designed for green stormwater infrastructure (GSI), include recycled pulverized glass rather than virgin sand to simultaneously reduce reliance on environmentally damaging materials and provide a sustainable outlet for a major waste stream?

This session will detail the Circular Soils initiative – a practice-based research project that seeks to answer this question by developing high-quality GSI soils for the urban environment of Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley that are renewably sourced. By developing a standardized recycled urban soil blend optimized for water quality, infiltration and plant health, this project aims to provide a means of building better green infrastructure more efficiently while also creating green jobs and supporting a circular economy.

The project has been the recipient of Phase I+II SBIR funding from the US EPA, and the findings will be openly shared with municipalities across the country, to move the needle on domestic recycling and life cycle cost reduction in the built environment. This session will primarily focus on the Phase II findings related to a full-scale green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) field experiment in Philadelphia and the expansion of glass-sand production locally.

In collaboration with the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) and Philadelphia Parks & Recreation (PPR), an existing stormwater bioretention basin was retrofitted with a glass-based soil (GBS) mix and observed over a one-year period for plant health, hydrologic, and hydraulic performance.  Metrics for water quality, soil moisture, infiltration, compaction, flow rate, plant transpiration, and plant health were monitored.

Phase II also facilitated collaboration among local material processing businesses to begin pilot production of the GBS prototype locally to establish a glass-sand hub to support future municipal demand for the material.  During the session, the project team will provide in-depth analysis of research results, opportunities, challenges, and next steps for the initiative

Speakers: Ed Confair, PE, PLA, CPRP, Vice President and Principal of Landscape & Resiliency, E&LP; Megan Schmidt, Project Engineer, E&LP; Rebecca Popowsky, Research Associate, OLIN Labs; Rebecca Davies, Co-Founder, Remark Glass

Session Time: 1:40 – 2:40 PM

Location: Ullyot Room


Ed Confair, Vice President, Landscape + Resiliency, AKRF

Ed Confair is a Vice President with AKRF, Inc, where he is a practicing civil engineer and landscape architect specializing in resiliency planning, stormwater management, and the design and planning of multi-scale public spaces. His passion for green stormwater infrastructure leads to an integrated approach on his projects where green infrastructure systems become the organizing framework for public programs and amenities like sports fields, trail systems, play areas, dog parks, and streetscapes. 

He strives to deliver infrastructure improvements while simultaneously improving public spaces for the communities he works with. In addition to professional work, Ed lectures at the University of Pennsylvania in the MLA program. Ed holds bachelor’s degrees in civil engineering and architecture from Lehigh University and a master’s degree in landscape architecture from the University of Pennsylvania.

Rebecca Popowsky, Research Associate, OLIN

Rebecca Popowsky is a landscape architect and Research Associate at OLIN, where she leads the firm’s research and development group, OLIN Labs. Her project-near and grant-funded research includes waste-based material design and innovation in practice-based research models. Since joining the studio in 2009, Rebecca has contributed to a wide-range of design, planning, and construction projects. Her portfolio includes Canal Park in Washington, DC, Dilworth Park in Philadelphia, and collaboration with the Army Corps of Engineers to restore the FEMA floodplain at the Potomac Park Levee on the National Mall.

In addition to practice, Rebecca teaches core and advanced design studios and professional practice courses at the University of Pennsylvania and Swarthmore College. Rebecca earned dual master’s degrees in Architecture and Landscape Architecture from PennDesign and a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture and Urban Studies from Yale University. She is currently undertaking a PhD in Practice-Based Research at Virginia Tech.

Rebecca Davies, Co-Founder, Remark Glass

Rebecca Davies is from Connecticut. She went to Smith College in Northampton MA and moved to Philadelphia in 2009 to complete an MFA at the University of the Arts. After taking one course in glass she found work in the industry, first in stained glass, then at a blown glass lighting company. After their child was born she and her husband Mark Ellis moved into a studio in the same building as Danielle Ruttenberg. They worked together to develop an entirely different recycled glass making process and founded Remark Glass.

Megan Schmidt, Water Resources Engineer, AKRF

Megan Schmidt develops creative solutions to civil engineering, landscape architecture, and planning challenges for more physically and socially resilient public spaces.


Session 4: Stormwater Utility: A Mechanism for Funding Green Stormwater Infrastructure Projects in Your Community

This session will cover the concept of a stormwater utility/authority and how it can be a mechanism to fund the cost of services directly related to the management of stormwater. Specifically, we will dive into examples of municipalities who have used a stormwater utility to build green stormwater infrastructure projects and prepare for climate impacts in their communities. We will cover engagement strategies for talking to your community about pursuing a stormwater utility and share a brief overview of what the feasibility study process entails. We will address the tools necessary to establish a strategy to encourage, regulate, implement, and oversee the use of green infrastructure in public projects and in new or redevelopment efforts. 

Speakers: Dana Patterson, Director of Marketing & Communications, Princeton Hydro & Elizabeth Treadway, Senior Vice President, WSP

Session Time: 2:45 – 3:45 PM

Location: Ullyot Room


Dana Patterson, Director of Marketing & Communications, Princeton Hydro

Dana Patterson Grear is Princeton Hydro’s Director of Marketing and Communications and ‌is‌ ‌a‌ ‌passionate‌ ‌environmental‌ ‌communicator‌ ‌who‌ ‌brings‌ ‌a‌ ‌strong‌ ‌mix‌ ‌of‌ ‌diverse‌ ‌stakeholder‌ ‌engagement‌ ‌experience and‌ ‌values-based‌ ‌communication‌ ‌strategy.‌ She specializes in branding, marketing, proposal management, grant writing, and digital media strategy and has held a variety of‌ digital media ‌positions‌ in the nonprofit and academia sectors. She‌ ‌earned‌ ‌her‌ ‌Master‌ ‌of‌ ‌Environmental‌ ‌Management‌ ‌from‌ ‌Yale‌ ‌University’s School‌ ‌of the Environment where she focused on communication strategies around climate change and wildlife conservation ‌and‌ ‌holds‌ ‌a‌ ‌Bachelor of Science ‌in‌ ‌Chemistry‌ ‌from‌ ‌Fairleigh‌ ‌Dickinson‌ ‌University.‌ ‌ She previously served a five-year nonprofit role where she empowered dozens of individuals in environmental justice communities; taught thousands of students about wetlands, wildlife, and watersheds; and served a leadership role on a half dozen Community Advisory Groups providing technical guidance. She is an active board member of Sustainable South Jersey and the Society of American Military Engineers NJ Post, and sits on the American Sustainable Business Council’s “Clean Water is Good for Business” Steering Committee. On weekends, you can find Dana bird watching in parks, capturing nature’s beauty through photography, and exploring new trails.

Elizabeth Treadway, Senior Vice President, WSP

Elizabeth Treadway has over 38 years of public works experience including the management of local government services in solid waste and stormwater management including program planning, finance and long-range system master planning. She began her local government career for the City of Greensboro NC, bringing technical expertise in planning, cost and benefit analysis, management, scheduling, and implementation of a wide variety of public works initiatives. In her current consultation role, Ms. Treadway has served numerous communities in analysis of water resource services, program development and permit negotiation, including communities throughout the Mid-Atlantic. She is skilled in financial modeling, organizational assessment, policy negotiation, community engagement, program budgeting, cost benefit analysis, revenue management, and capital budgeting. She plays a lead role in the financial planning and user-fee development to support implementation of water quality permits, capital projects, and overall operation of stormwater systems for local governments throughout the US and Canada. Elizabeth served as President of the American Public Works Association in 2012-2013, representing all areas of public works operations. She is a national expert on stormwater utilities and has been an invited keynote speaker, lead presenter, and instructor on the topic in a variety of forums including the Tennessee Stormwater Association Annual Conference, NJ Waterworks Collaborative, NJ League of Conservation Voters Annual Conference, and NJAFM Annual Conference most recently.

Track 2: Stormwater & Climate Resilience Regulatory Frameworks & Policies

Session 1: The Checkbox is Square One: Leveraging Creativity and Site Synergies to Move Beyond Regulatory Frameworks

As individuals and institutions have grappled with the most effective and efficient ways to improve project performance, sustainability benchmarks have become increasingly prevalent as the default mechanism to advocate for green stormwater management strategies and measure their success. What’s needed now is a reconceptualization of our industry standards as the floor of future progress rather than the pinnacle of sustainability to which we should aspire.

The first critical step is to root design choices in an understanding of the hydrologic cycle in the same way we currently do with other key factors of sustainable design like energy efficiency and embedded and operational carbon. One approach to exceeding performance minimums is designing solutions that are tailored to the specific parameters of each site, saving time in construction, reducing costs, and improving building systems efficiency. At the new United States District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi, our project team was able to compensate for the inefficient drainage of the site’s clay-based soils by constructing a cistern within a restricted area below the floodplain that supplies water to a new, high performance, public landscape. At the new Living Village at Yale Divinity School, the rigorous standards of the Living Building Challenge inspired our team to design a unique system that utilizes gravity to collect stormwater and pump it into a landscaping system, eliminating the need for supplemental water for irrigation. Another approach centers on leveraging vegetated green roofs, occupiable spaces within infrastructure, and porous surfaces that feed central waters systems to maximize impact by serving multiple purposes at once. These interventions can reduce expenses, improve ecosystem health and resiliency, and accelerate regulatory approvals: leaving more time and resources to push forward and define new high water marks for the success of the built environment.

Speakers: José Almiñana PLA, FASLA, SITES AP, LEED AP, Principal, Andropogon Associates & Jason Curtis, PLA, LFA, SITES AP, LEED AP, Senior Associate, Andropogon Associates

Session Time: 10:30 – 11:30 AM

Location: Rohm & Haas


José Almiñana PLA, FASLA, SITES AP, LEED AP, Principal, Andropogon Associates

José Almiñana is a principal at Andropogon Associates, a landscape architecture firm known for its regenerative development approach. Trained as both a landscape architect and architect, José has practiced and advocated tirelessly for design that harmonizes people and place through a holistic understanding of our environment and the aspirations of the community. His projects demonstrate and promote innovative and regenerative site development strategies that heal our landscapes and provide solutions to our present environmental challenges. José has been instrumental in the development of multiple high-performance LEED, SITES, and Living Building Challenge-certified projects, was the recipient of the ASLA President’s Medal in 2010, and was elected to the ASLA Council of Fellows the same year. In recognition of his contributions to the cultural life of Philadelphia, José received the Wyck-Strickland Award in 2023.

Jason Curtis, PLA, LFA, SITES AP, LEED AP, Senior Associate, Andropogon Associates

Jason is an Associate Principal at Andropogon who joined the firm in 2007. With a background in agriculture and sustainable systems, he brings a unique, firsthand perspective on how ecological systems function to all of his work. Through his designs, Jason explores novel and creative strategies to reduce negative environmental impacts and build efficient building and site synergies to achieve the highest possible ratings on sustainable performance ratings systems. Jason is adept at fostering collaboration in the design process and has developed expertise in consensus building through multi-stakeholder, multidisciplinary working sessions. Jason currently serves as a Co-Facilitator for Green Building United’s Living Future Community Council.


Session 2: Radnor Township’s Green Infrastructure Approach to Water Quality and Flood Reduction

Radnor Township, one of the oldest municipalities in Pennsylvania, includes urban areas such as the Wayne Historic District and several colleges and Universities, including Villanova. Like many urban communities, streams were buried decades ago and there is little stormwater management. Much of Radnor sits in the headwaters of Darby Creek Watershed, which runs through flood-prone areas such as the community of Eastwick before reaching the Delaware River. 

One of the most significant challenges facing Radnor is urban flooding associated with increasing high-intensity rainfall events due to climate change. The combined factors of high-intensity rainfall, undersized infrastructure, and buried streams has led to conditions where localized urban flooding requires police rescues from stranded vehicles in front of the school, or results in several feet of flood waters in front of the Radnor Firehouse. 

These flooding events are not necessarily associated with FEMA mapped flood areas, nor is the flooding occurring during hurricanes and large “100-year” types of storm events. Rather, flooding occurs during the flashy localized storms resulting in several inches of rainfall in just a few hours. At the same time, Radnor must comply with MS4 regulatory requirements and improve water quality during the small, frequent rainfalls.

In 2018, Radnor began a watershed-based GSI approach to both reduce flooding and improve water quality, using a high-intensity “10-year, 1-hour” rain event to represent the changing intensities associated with climate change. Construction of the first regional GSI project was completed in 2023, reducing flooding in Wayne and providing parking and streetscape improvements. The second major project is under construction and includes a wooded wetlands restoration that will enhance habitat and meet water quality goals, receiving both Growing Greener and NFWF funding. This presentation will provide a detailed overview of Radnor’s approach to addressing both climate change and water quality with green infrastructure.

Speakers: Michele Adams, PE, LEED AP, Founder, Meliora Design; Marc Henderson, PE, Project Manager, Senior Water Resources Engineer, Meliora Design; Michael Busch, EIT, Civil and Water Resources Engineer, Meliora Design 

Session Time: 11:35 AM – 12:20 PM

Location: Rohm & Haas


Michele Adams, Founder, Meliora Design

Michele Adams, P.E., LEED AP is a Water Resources Engineer and founder of Meliora Design. Her work encompasses environmentally sensitive site design and sustainable water resources engineering. Michele seeks to combine sound engineering science with an understanding of natural systems and stormwater techniques that maintain or restore a site’s natural hydrology. She has extensive design experience in green infrastructure, landscape restoration, and designing for resiliency.  Michele was one of the authors of the Pennsylvania Stormwater Manual and currently serves on the U.S. Green Building Council’s Water Efficiency Technical Advisory Group, and the International Living Future Institute Water Group. She is a co-author of Design for Flooding: Architecture, Landscape, and Urban Design for Resilience to Climate Change (Wiley, 2011) and the NYC Parks High Performance Landscape Guidelines.

Marc Henderson, Project Manager, Senior Water Resources Engineer, Meliora Design 

Marc B. Henderson, P.E., is a Civil Engineer and Principal at Meliora Design. Marc’s work includes green infrastructure, stormwater design, and water reuse systems, as well as civil engineering design and municipal approvals.  Marc frequently serves as an environmental Expert Witness for stormwater management and resiliency.

Michael Busch, EIT, Civil and Water Resources Engineer, Meliora Design

Michael Busch, EIT is a Water Resources Engineer with expertise in applying various hydraulic and hydrologic models to inform green infrastructure and flood reduction planning efforts and design projects.


Session 3: Hydrating the Learning Landscape

Urban school districts have a major impact on the quality of city’s environments, as some of the largest landholders affecting hydrological and ecological quality, and as primary institutions educating children about the role of landscape in their life and health of their community. When people begin to see and understand landscapes, such as urban schoolyards, as an interactive teaching tool, they often experience a shift in thinking about the role of landscape in their daily lives. 

Philadelphia is a centuries-old city that has a combined sewer system. During heavy storms, this system can overflow, releasing untreated water into local waterways. The School District of Philadelphia (SDP) manages 1,400 acres of land for 326 school buildings distributed across the City, making it a major contributor to stormwater pollution.

Urban schoolyards are opportune places for managing stormwater through surface expression because they can simultaneously function as learning landscapes for students, as well as significantly increase community greening. 

Since 2010, SDP has launched green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) projects at over forty schools in underserved areas in Philadelphia. These collaborative, multi-partner initiatives in public schoolyards aim to reduce stormwater pollution entering the city’s sewer system, enhance water quality in the regional watershed, promote environmental and social equity, and engage communities in design and stewardship to improve the ecological health of surrounding waterways. 

We’ll discuss, from both landscape and engineering perspectives, how this sustainable shift expands learning opportunities in schoolyards and contributes to climate resilience. 

Learning Objectives

  1. Identify methods for conducting high-level analyses to prioritize GSI investments in underserved communities, with focus on water quality, equity, and community engagement during the selection process.
  2. Explain how integrating GSI into schoolyard landscapes improves climate resilience.

Speakers: Sara Pevaroff Schuh, RLA, ASLA,  Principal, SALT Design Studio; Le (Cindy) Xu, RLA, LEED BC+D AP, Landscape Architect, SALT Design Studio; James Gallagher, EIT, Senior Engineer, Rodriguez Consulting; Emma Melvin, Green Infrastructure Program Manager, The School District of Philadelphia

Session Time: 1:40 – 2:40 PM

Location: Rohm & Haas


Sara Pevaroff Schuh, RLA, ASLA, Principal

Sara Pevaroff Schuh, RLA, ASLA, founder and principal of SALT Design Studio, is a landscape architect, artist and teacher with 28 years’ experience in creating resilient, equitable landscapes that connect people to place and integrate art into the everyday experience. Her firm specializes in community engagement and leveraging the landscape as a teaching tool in public parks and gardens, schoolyards, institutional campuses, streetscapes and urban centers. She lectures frequently on urban design, placemaking and community facilitation techniques to schools and non-profit organizations. Sara holds a Master of Landscape Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor of Science in Political Communication from The University of Texas.

Le (Cindy) Xu, RLA, LEED BC+D AP, Landscape Architect, SALT Design Studio

Le (Cindy) Xu is a licensed landscape architect and project manager at SALT Design Studio, also teaching workshops at Thomas Jefferson University.

James Gallagher, EIT, Senior Engineer, Rodriguez Consulting

James Gallagher is a Senior Engineer at Rodriguez, specializing in private land development projects in Philadelphia. With over 9 years of experience, he excels as a design engineer and project manager. His expertise encompasses site planning, subdivisions, zoning, utility connections, and stormwater management. James earned a BS in Civil Engineering from Drexel University in 2014, and gained valuable insights through internships at the Philadelphia Water Department.

Emma Melvin, Green Infrastructure Program Manager, The School District of Philadelphia

Emma Melvin works as the Green Infrastructure Program Manager at the School District of Philadelphia.


Session 4: Tapping into Community Knowledge and Building Trust: Strategies to Bring Equity to Stormwater Management, Resilience, and Adaptation Efforts

In order to be equitable and address historic harms, climate resilience initiatives must be informed by and responsive to the needs of those community members who are disproportionately harmed by climate change and pollution – namely, communities of color and low-income residents. In this session we will walk participants through River Network’s “Building Blocks of Trust”  and “Community-Led Research” tools. We will familiarize participants with the toolkit components and the fundamentals of using community knowledge and building authentic and equitable relationships between community organizations, stormwater utilities, and other GSI practitioners to make stormwater and climate resilience initiatives more equitable. 

Trust between GSI practitioners and community organizations is critical for successful decision making and investing that leads to safe, sustainable, and equitable stormwater solutions – especially in the face of climate change. We will share what River Network and WaterNow Alliance learned while developing the “Building Blocks of Trust” tool, including how strong relationships between local water utilities and community organizations are built and maintained while working together for clean and safe water and healthy rivers.  

We’ll then discuss Community-Led Research as a key strategy to build trust and to carry out climate resilience solutions in a manner that’s equitable and leads to long-term success. We’ll walk-through the techniques and approaches to support community-led research to center communities’ experiences and needs in assessing local climate risks and generating equitable solutions. We will also share real-world community-led research case studies. We’ll also share how, by supporting this approach, GSI practitioners can directly engage with community members to deeply understand how stormwater and flooding problems directly impact them. Likewise, it’s an approach that can help GSI practitioners formulate solutions that are equitable and truly work by directly engaging with community members when identifying solutions. 

Speaker: Campbell Simmons, Resilient Communities & Policy Associate, River Network

Session Time: 2:45 – 3:45 PM

Location: Rohm & Haas Room


Campbell Simmons, Resilient Communities & Policy Associate, River Network

Campbell is the Resilient Communities and Policy Associate at River Network. Based in Philadelphia (Lenape Land), Campbell focuses their work on supporting community-based organizations develop strategies for climate resilience.

Track 3: Funding and Financing Opportunities for Water Infrastructure & Community Greening

Session 1: Owner Engagement and Funding – Lessons from 10 years of GCCW Participation

Philadelphia is halfway through their 25-year long term control plan, Green City Clean Waters (GCCW).  The metrics have been good, but the path forward is steep. In the first half of the program, 2,863 greened acres have been captured, but the next half of the program needs to capture an additional 6,725 acres in about the same amount of time, a 235% increase. Grant incentive-driven projects have accounted for more than one-third of that total. Over the last ten years of implementing such projects, we have observed trends indicating that much of the “low hanging fruit” of the potential incentive program projects have been developed. While many opportunities remain, there are barriers to entry for many private property owners which need to be recognized and addressed if private property participation is to continue at a similar pace. 

The promise of GCCW is that the City would use much of the expenditure to green the City. As the path has steepened, there are indications that PWD may consider increasing the use of gray infrastructure rather than green. This presentation explores a practitioner’s view of experience with the private sector contribution to the program, the obstacles to increasing participation, potential and developing policies that can address those obstacles to creating greenspace through stormwater infrastructure as GCCW was established to do. 

PEER and Clean Water Action is a member of the initiative funded by the William Penn Foundation, the Resilient Communities Stormwater Initiative (RCSI) that is exploring how to increase the distribution of GSI funding in underserved neighborhoods to create greenspace and to identify alternate funding mechanisms.

Speakers: Dennis Shelly, PE, Founder & Managing Member, PEER Environmental; Lyle Winklerprins, Environmental Engineer, PEER Environmental; Maurice Sampson II, Eastern Pennsylvania Director, Clean Water Actio

Session Time: 10:30 – 11:45 AM

Location: Franklin Room


Dennis Shelly, PE, Founder & Managing Member, PEER Environmental

Dennis Shelly is a seasoned environmental professional with extensive experience in the assessment and management of environmental, health and safety risk. He holds a BS in Civil Engineering from Penn State and a Masters of Civil Engineering from Villanova.  Shelly has spent more than 12 years developing business in the market for stormwater management that was created when Philadelphia started the Green City, Clean Waters program. The projects have primarily been retrofits of GSI on commercial and institutional properties that are willing and able to manage stormwater on site. The projects have been financed through a combination of owner and PWD funds. Through his efforts, PEER is a rarity among privately held companies, receiving grants from the William Penn Foundation for three years as a member of a team focused on moving investment in stormwater infrastructure more strongly into historically underinvested neighborhoods.  He is leading the effort to modify Philadelphia Water Department purchase of assets policy so that private property owners will be reimbursed for the management of stormwater runoff from public right-of-way.

Lyle Winklerprins, Environmental Engineer, PEER Environmental

Lyle Winklerprins is a multidisciplinary environmental engineer, consultant, and a forward creative thinker. A 2019 graduate of Temple University, Lyle has two years of experience completing remediation projects with GEI Consultants across the NJ/PA region and over two years of experience working on stormwater development projects with PEER Environmental in Philadelphia. Drawing on his experience as an environmental consultant and multi-regional upbringing, Lyle is keen on the close relationship between people and the environment around them.  Lyle is inspired by triple bottom line projects focusing on people first and is energized by those who are unafraid to push boundaries and ask questions.

Maurice Sampson II, Eastern Pennsylvania Director, Clean Water Action

Maurice Sampson is the Eastern Pennsylvania Director for Clean Water Action, environmental advocacy organization. In that role he drafted the bill and continues to facilitate political support leading to the passage of the Philadelphia’s plastic shopping bag ban. Sampson’s environmental career began with the first Earth Day in 1970. He served among the nation’s first Recycling Coordinators for the cities of Newark NJ and Philadelphia, PA in 1982 and 1985, respectively. He was the sole Pennsylvania delegate to the First People of Color Environmental Summit in 1991 and party to the composition of the Principals of Environmental Justice.


Session 2: Introducing Stormwater Management to Philadelphia C-PACE

When the C-PACE program was initially authorized within Philadelphia in 2019, the specifications of eligible projects included energy efficiency, clean energy, and water conservation. The program administrator, Philadelphia Energy Authority, approached PWD to discuss the logistics of including GSI/stormwater management practices (SMPs) that were beyond the minimum requirements of the Stormwater Regulations into eligibility of projects for the CPACE funding mechanism.  Upon review of the language by PWD, the existing clauses covered a few SMPs but did not cover most SMPs that PWD reviews and approves, rendering most projects with “above and beyond” SMPs still ineligible for this funding mechanism. 

Due to PWD’s interest in understanding the availability of funding for “above and beyond” stormwater management (or any stormwater management not required by the Regulations), PWD worked to clarify the different mechanisms for voluntary stormwater management with PEA. With this information in hand, PEA had the background in working on updating the language within the legislation for program eligibility. In 2022, the proposed legislation edits were approved and expanded to include multifamily properties with 5 or more units, IAQ, and resiliency projects. With this expansion, the resiliency clause now renders voluntary stormwater management in Philadelphia eligible for the Philadelphia CPACE funding mechanism (along with other eligibility requirements). PWD also provided guidance on the logistics and administration for these projects from a PWD perspective.  

From legislation: “Resiliency improvement.” Any fixture, product, system, equipment, device, material or interacting group, thereof intended to increase resilience or improve the durability of qualifying commercial property, needed to withstand natural disasters, including, but not limited to, flood mitigation, wind resistance, energy storage and microgrids, as defined by a local government.

Speakers: Carla Windt, PE, CFM, LEED AP ND, Engineering Supervisor, Philadelphia Water Department; Matthew Stern, Senior Director of Commercial Programs, Philadelphia Energy Authority

Session Time: 11:45 AM – 12:30 PM

Location: Franklin Room


Carla Windt, PE, CFM, LEED AP ND, Engineering Supervisor, Philadelphia Water Department

Carla Windt, PE, CFM, LEED AP ND is an engineering supervisor for the Program Support squad within PWD’s Development Services Unit. This squad aims to provide service for the unit by documenting working procedures, internal review guidance, technical support, and coordination between internal and external collaborators. Previous to this role, she spent over six years in PWD’s Stormwater Billing and Incentives group, primarily working on voluntary stormwater management on Philadelphia privately-owned properties. She holds two degrees in Civil Engineering from Villanova University.

Matthew Stern, Senior Director, Commercial Programs, Philadelphia Energy Authority

Matt Stern serves as Senior Director, Commercial Programs for the Philadelphia Energy Authority (PEA). PEA is a quasi-governmental municipal authority that aims to be a catalyst for the growth of a robust, equitable, diverse clean energy economy in Philadelphia through the development of long-term energy projects, policy, education and market-building activities. Matt currently oversees PEA’s commercial initiatives including administration of Philadelphia’s Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy financing (C-PACE) program, expansion of the country’s largest Solarize program, Solarize Philly, to include commercial properties and management of Philadelphia’s municipal clean energy projects.


Session 3: Intermunicipal Collaboration for Stormwater Management: Case Studies Across Pennsylvania

Efforts to manage stormwater for improved water quality and reduced localized flooding are often complicated by the fact that stormwater fails to respect municipal boundaries. For smaller communities, their relative size within their local watershed often necessitates looking beyond their borders for projects that can help them achieve their stormwater management goals. Limitations on small communities’ managerial and financial capacity can make the process of planning, funding, and overseeing the development, construction, and maintenance of stormwater projects difficult or infeasible. For small and disadvantaged communities to successfully manage their stormwater runoff, collaboration with neighboring communities is often a necessary piece of the puzzle, creating opportunities to share costs and resources, gain a competitive advantage in funding applications, and pursue common regulatory goals.

However, collaboration is rarely a straightforward process. Issues of trust, relative political and financial influence, and the alignment of goals and priorities can prove challenging. As part of a project reinvigorating a multi-municipal planning process for stormwater management in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, WaterNow Alliance has conducted extensive research and interviews with the managers of a variety of collaborative efforts to manage stormwater across community boundaries, throughout the state. In this session, we’ll invite experts and community representatives to share the strategies, structures, and best practices they’ve used to ensure that collaborative efforts fulfill the goals of their communities and foster productive long-term relationships.

Speakers: Emerson O’Donnell, Program Manager, WaterNow Alliance; Beth Uhler, Pennsylvania Director, Center for Watershed Protection; Jennifer Cotting, Director, University of Maryland Environmental Finance Center; Lisa Werder-Brown, Executive Director, Watersheds of South Pittsburgh

Session Time: 1:40 – 2:40 PM

Location: Franklin Room


Emerson O’Donnell, Program Manager, WaterNow Alliance

Emerson brings their background in data science, ecology, and community organizing and engagement to their role as a Program Manager with WaterNow. Emerson works on data-driven municipal engagement, developing regional networks of support for sustainable stormwater management in southwest Pennsylvania and across the country through WaterNow’s Project Accelerator. Prior to joining the WaterNow Alliance, they completed a Master’s degree in Sustainability from Chatham University while working as an environmental organizer and activist in Pittsburgh, PA. They hold a BA in neuroscience from Skidmore College.

O’Donnell will also be leading the “Navigating Green Infrastructure Maintenance with Capitalized Establishment Costs” following this session.

Beth Uhler, Pennsylvania Director, Center for Watershed Protection

Beth is the Pennsylvania Director for the Center for Watershed Protection. She has been working in water resources for over 20 years, specializing in stormwater management, watershed planning, GIS solutions, and wetland science and permitting. Her expertise is in developing and implementing Stormwater Management Programs for local governments, NPDES MS4 permitting, and stormwater management policy and regulation. Providing technical expertise as an intergovernmental liaison between local, state and federal governments, she currently serves as a member of the PA DEP’s Water Resources Advisory Committee. Beth has a Bachelor of Science in Geo-environmental Studies from Shippensburg University.

Jennifer Cotting, Director, University of Maryland Environmental Finance Center

Jen has worked in leadership roles to advance local-level resource protection efforts for more than twenty years. She joined the Mid-Atlantic Environmental Finance Center at the University of Maryland in 2004 and currently is the center’s Director. Prior to this role, Jen served as the Center’s first Research Associate for Green Infrastructure and developed expertise in green infrastructure finance developing solutions that address needs across a diverse set of drivers, engage a variety of partners, and occur at multiple scales. She has a wealth of experience in direct community engagement, technical assistance, and communications. She holds an M.S. in Sustainable Development and Conservation Biology from the University of Maryland and a B.A. in Communications from Marymount University.

Lisa Werder-Brown, Executive Director, Watersheds of South Pittsburgh

Lisa Brown is the Founder and Executive Director of Watersheds of South Pittsburgh, which focuses on the issues of flooding, stormwater runoff, and degraded water quality in the Saw Mill Run and Streets Run Watersheds. Lisa works closely with the watershed communities, local governments, and academic and nonprofit partners to identify the issues and explore opportunities for transforming our local watersheds. For close to two decades, Lisa has been working to mitigate the problems in urban watersheds.

Lisa received her BS in biology from Chatham University, while her graduate studies in social and comparative analysis focused on the public’s understanding of scientific uncertainty. Lisa also holds a Certificate in Nonprofit Executive Management from Georgetown University.


Session 4: Navigating Green Infrastructure Maintenance with Capitalized Establishment Costs

For nearly two decades, local stormwater managers in Pennsylvania and across the country have recognized green infrastructure (GI) as an effective, multi-benefit approach to managing stormwater. GI provides significant benefits for combating the water quality and climate change-related challenges that municipalities face. In addition, GI is a centerpiece One Water strategy; it can capture and reuse stormwater to enhance water supply reliability, creating resilience to drought. Beyond these water management benefits, GI generates community and economic co-benefits including local green jobs, among others. Yet, GI has mostly remained on the fringes of stormwater management. To realize its potential and have a substantial impact for communities, GI needs to scale up rapidly. Lack of funds to pay for GI maintenance is often cited as a barrier to getting to scale.

A 2023 report from the WaterNow Alliance and Environmental Policy Innovation Center presents a solution GI practitioners and proponents can add to the toolkit for navigating this funding barrier and getting to scale: ensuring that the three to five-year vegetative establishment period for GI is treated as a capital cost instead of a maintenance expense. Recognizing establishment period costs as capital costs unlocks access to key financing options, including the largest federal finance program for water infrastructure–the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF), which finances construction, planning, and assessment costs, but not maintenance. This session will include an examination of a case study from Hoboken, New Jersey, where the utility successfully financed the establishment periods for two GI projects as capital costs through the CWSRF. The session will explore key strategies employed in helping decision-makers at the utilities and the SRFs understand the benefits of, and justification of cases for, this approach, and provide actionable recommendations for project managers and decision-makers interested in incorporating this approach into their financing strategies.

Speakers: Emerson O’Donnell, Program Manager, WaterNow Alliance; Peter Hill, Senior Policy Advisor, Environmental Policy Innovation Center (EPIC); Caleb Stratton, Assistant Business Administrator & Chief Resiliency Officer, City of Hoboken, NJ

Session Time: 2:45 – 3:45 PM

Location: Franklin Room


Emerson O’Donnell, Program Manager, WaterNow Alliance

Emerson brings their background in data science, ecology, and community organizing and engagement to their role as a Program Manager with WaterNow. Emerson works on data-driven municipal engagement, developing regional networks of support for sustainable stormwater management in southwest Pennsylvania and across the country through WaterNow’s Project Accelerator. Prior to joining the WaterNow Alliance, they completed a Master’s degree in Sustainability from Chatham University while working as an environmental organizer and activist in Pittsburgh, PA. They hold a BA in neuroscience from Skidmore College.

O’Donnell will also be leading the “Navigating Green Infrastructure Maintenance with Capitalized Establishment Costs” following this session.

Peter Hill, Senior Policy Advisor, Environmental Policy Innovation Center (EPIC)

Pete has implemented and advised on green infrastructure for most of his career. For the past several years as a consultant, he helped municipalities and nonprofit organizations in the Great Lakes region with watershed planning and workforce development and training related to green infrastructure. Prior to that, he worked for the District of Columbia Department of Energy and Environment managing the implementation of stormwater projects and stream and wetland restoration projects, with a focus on the Anacostia River. Pete is committed to realizing the benefits that green infrastructure promises and ensuring that equitable access to clean rivers and livable communities. Pete earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from The Evergreen State College and a Masters in Environmental Management from the Yale School of the Environment.

Caleb Stratton, AICP PP CFM, Assistant Business Administrator & Chief Resiliency Officer, City of Hoboken

Caleb Stratton is the Chief Resilience Officer and Assistant Business Administrator for Hoboken, NJ. He directs the delivery of the city’s capital and infrastructure programs which include construction of the $392,000,000 Rebuild by Design Hudson River (RBD-HR) flood risk reduction project. He’s proud of a recent municipal re-organization that codified the Department of Climate Action and Innovation, positioning the most capable members of the city hall team to inform modernization and sustainability. He holds two professional certifications through the American Planning Association (AICP) and the American Society of Floodplain Managers (CFM) as well as a license by the State of New Jersey as a Professional Planner (PP). He has an undergraduate degree in Urban Planning from the University at Albany, and a Masters in Sustainability from the Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture.  

Caleb Stratton will also join the session, “Navigating Green Infrastructure Maintenance with Capitalized Establishment Costs,” later in the program.

Closing Remarks

Shandor Szalay, Stormwater Innovation Practice Lead, Arcadis

Shandor Szalay’s work focuses on helping cities to develop and deploy integrated solutions to water quality and flooding problems that include connected networks of urban greening, floodplain restoration, and smart stormwater systems, among other technologies.  Shandor’s focus is finding ways to target these investments where they will be the most successful, equitable. and cost-effective at scale and over the long term. His specific research interests include understanding the effects of operations and maintenance, design, and siting choices on the performance of green infrastructure systems, the use of alternative project delivery models such as public/private partnerships for accelerating investments in flood mitigation and water quality, and analytical methods for optimizing stormwater management systems to reduce sediment pollution due to stream channel erosion. He is also the Stormwater Innovation Practice Lead at Arcadis. Before joining Arcadis, Shandor was a Principal at AKRF where he directed the firm’s Water Resources Practice. Shandor is a graduate of the University of Minnesota and the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, NY.

Thank You & Looking Ahead

Devi Ramkissoon, Executive Director, the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia

Devi Ramkissoon comes to SBN with 15+ years of experience in international development, specializing in working with sustainable businesses for economic growth and poverty reduction. An immigrant and social entrepreneur herself, Devi has worked tirelessly to advance the work of small businesses from underrepresented communities across Latin America, Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East. For nearly the past decade at USAID, she led multimillion dollar food security, environment, and private sector development projects around the world, managed the Agency’s premier knowledge-sharing platform for market development, and advanced the US Government’s sustainable development goals at multiple international market development fora. She has won numerous awards from the US Government and the private sector for her leadership navigating global humanitarian crises.

Devi holds a Master of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and English Literature from Swarthmore College.

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