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Ecosystem Services Assessment for Green Stormwater Infrastructure in Lancaster, PA

Green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) is growing in interest and implementation. Though it is primarily implemented as part of efforts to manage stormwater quantity or quality concerns in urban areas, there is also an interest in leveraging it as a place-making tool to provide additional ecosystem services or co-benefits to improve people’s quality of life. Rarely are co-benefits actually directly measured, particularly multiple simultaneously. Here we propose to do an ecosystem services assessment of GSI in the city of Lancaster, PA, where there has already been extensive implementation of GSI. We intend to quantify flood control, water purification, microclimate regulation, carbon mitigation, biodiversity and habitat provision, and cultural services for multiple types of GSI. Most of these services will be directly quantified using field environmental research approaches. Cultural services (e.g., aesthetic, wellness benefit) will be evaluated via survey. The proposed work will be conducted through a collaboration between Penn State University, Franklin and Marshall College, and the City of Lancaster. Undergraduate and graduate student researchers involved will receive unique interdisciplinary training and will aid in generating a critical dataset and resulting insights. We will partner with Penn State Extension to disseminate the findings via web articles and webinars and give a public talk in the City of Lancaster. We anticipate that the results documenting ecosystem services of GSI will be useful not only for the city of Lancaster, but for municipalities across PA and beyond, who are considering implementing GSI in their stormwater management strategies.

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