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Strategies for Urban Stormwater Wetlands

Strategies for Urban Stormwater Wetlands Los Angeles and Houston led by Professor Heidi Nepf, Professor Alan Berger and Lead Researcher Celina Balderas Guzman has been awarded an Abdul Latif Jameel World Water and Food Security Lab (J-WAFS) seed-grant. A total of nine grants of $200,000 for two years were awarded to researchers from 11 MIT departments. 

The research project will explore the potential of constructed wetlands not only as a stormwater solution, but more fundamentally as urban resiliency infrastructure. Managing stormwater is a key problem in securing urban resiliency worldwide. Stormwater’s volume and toxic mix of pollutants threatens the ecological function of water systems, impairing critical ecosystem services cities need for resiliency: water quality, aquifer recharge, flood protection, soil conservation, urban heat island reduction, biodiversity, and others. Plus, stormwater represents a potential water source for cities, which increasingly face water shortages. As urban expansion accelerates around the world (the UN estimated an additional 2.5 billion people will live in cities by 2050), the stormwater problem will worsen as impervious surfaces and ecological degradation increase. Investigating constructed wetlands as a flexible, holistic, and multi-functional urban infrastructure for stormwater is relevant not only for retrofitting existing North American cities, but also as a low-cost solution for new development in the Global South.

Further details on the project are available here.