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Flood Adaptation Co-benefits of Nutrient Management

Effectively managing nutrient pollution and flood risk are two decisive challenges for the sustainability and resiliency of the Susquehanna River Basin (SRB) and Chesapeake Bay. This project will advance an innovative strategy to simultaneously address these two challenges. The strategy integrates climate adaptation and hybrid green-blue-grey infrastructure to increase regional resilience, which is a focus area and priority topic of the Pennsylvania Sea Grant Program. By adopting agricultural best management practices (BMPs) that target high flows (green-grey infrastructure), restoring wetlands (blue-green infrastructure), and enhancing forest management practices (green infrastructure), our strategy aims to maximize the flood adaptation co-benefits of nutrient pollution management. This has the potential to boost regional resilience to extreme events, restore and maintain healthy coastal and inland ecosystems, and create cost saving opportunities. Our integrated research and outreach objectives are to: 1) perform a model-based assessment of different strategies for adopting high-flow agricultural BMPs, restoring wetlands, and enhancing forest management practices; 2) visualize these strategies using a web-based interactive mapping tool that allows evaluating what-if scenarios; and 3) engage stakeholders to inform our BMP scenarios and identify barriers to adoption. We will advance knowledge of the positive effects of flood-risk teleconnections – downstream flood-risk reductions that result from the upstream (distant) adoption of spatially distributed BMPs and blue-green infrastructure. For the model-based assessment, we will simulate and evaluate agricultural BMP and hybrid blue-green infrastructure scenarios in the SRB. We will assess fluvial flood risk and flood-related damage reductions associated with those scenarios. In addition, our model-based approach will fully account for existing flood protection infrastructure, such as dams and levees, in the SRB. To synthesize and visualize the modeling outcomes, we will create a web-based interactive mapping tool. This tool will amplify the project’s impact by supporting planning and management decisions and engaging with a broader audience.

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