Investigating Barriers to Implementing Stormwater Control Measures Using a Mixed Methods Approach

Fushcia-Ann E Hoover, Purdue University


A two-part study was conducted in the cities of Lafayette, IN and Chicago, IL to investigate barriers to implementing stormwater control measures (SCMs) in communities of color. In the first study, a watershed level statistical analysis incorporated monitoring data for water quality and water quantity metrics and compared a single watershed design to a paired watershed design. Two-sample t-tests and ANCOVA were conducted to measure change before and after the implementation of SCMs. Additionally, a power analysis was performed to determine sampling periods associated with detecting a minimum percent change at the watershed level. Significant changes in the urban watershed were detected for TSS load (–7%), TSS concentration (+36%), and storm volume (–4%) in the urban watershed using the ANCOVA. However, the power analysis showed that it is likely not possible to detect significant water quality changes at the watershed scale under the time, and monetary constraints of most municipalities. While these methods evaluated the feasibility of detecting watershed level changes pre/post SCM implementation, qualitative methods were used to evaluate barriers to SCM adoption in a Midwestern city where SCM implementation and policies are established but largely absent from communities of color. This second study incorporated interviews, participant observations and GIS analysis in an environmental justice framework to determine the institutional and cultural barriers present for stormwater management in communities of color. Resident interviews were semi-structured focusing on perceptions and attitudes of the environment, experiences associated with flooding during rainstorms, and experiences with city leadership and infrastructure. City and NGO personnel interviews were structured to determine current SCM programs, strategies, and outreach methods. An evaluation of the programs, policies, and interviewed statements of city personnel and non-profit staff showed intent to include socioeconomic data, community quality of life, and vulnerability to flooding as criteria in SCM placement. However, the mapped distribution of SCMs did not align with the distribution of flooding vulnerability. The majority of practices were located in the center east (downtown) area of the city, while the most vulnerable (socially and physically) communities were located in the south and west sides of the city. The most economically vulnerable communities to flooding were spread throughout the north, west, and south parts of the city. When residents in communities of color were interviewed, they expressed concern for their quality of life and well-being under their current environmental conditions. They also expressed positive attitudes towards and interest in at least one of the SCMs shown to them during the interview. These conversations revealed barriers that included a lack of trust in the local government, a lack of education regarding the role and function of SCMs, and a lack of resources or awareness of resources to access the SCM programs.




Bowling, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Hydrologic sciences|Environmental Justice|Urban planning

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