Equipping Municipalities with Climate Change Data to Inform Stormwater Management

Much of the stormwater infrastructure in Minnesota is aging and incapable of handling the current volume and frequency of precipitation events, let alone the more extreme precipitation events predicted by climate change models. Furthermore, very few Minnesota cities or townships incorporate climate change data when planning, designing and implementing stormwater and wastewater infrastructure. Climate change is not expected to affect all parts of Minnesota equally, but past projections have not sufficiently captured geographic and temporal variation at levels useful for policy decision making. Our group recently completed a four-year project to create the best available climate change projections at unprecedented fine-scale resolutions appropriate for local planning. However, model outputs need processing, formatting, and interpretation before they are accessible to decision makers. This project aims to equip local governments with climate change data that is directly applicable and accessible to them. We have two objectives: 1) to produce customized climate change reports for municipalities across the state, and 2) to engage at a deeper level with Minnesota’s most vulnerable cities to inform stormwater planning efforts, help find funding for innovative solutions, increase resiliency, and prepare for a wetter future.

Outcomes: 

o Better informed municipal officials on climate change effects affecting stormwater and wastewater management in their municipalities and regions.
o A better informed public on the local and regional effects of climate change in Minnesota.
o Municipal stormwater policy documents reflecting issues of sustainability and equity.
o Stormwater infrastructure designed to handle end-of-the-century climate conditions.

Project Staff: 

Christina Locke, University of Minnesota
Ryan Noe, University of Minnesota
Tracy Twine, University of Minnesota
Bonnie Keeler, University of Minnesota
Leah Hall, The Nature Conservancy
Stephanie Pinkalla, The Nature Conservancy