Home | Research and Grants | Pulications | Teaching  

Teaching - Geo 470/570/Law 777: Integrated Environmental Management

Class Project: Building Community Resilience against Floods and other Extreme Events
Featuring UB projects: Cattaraugus Creek Watershed Strategy & Information Products Laboratory for Emergency Response (IPLER)

Cattaraugus Creek at Main Street Bridge, Gowanda, NY (Aug 10 2009 2 am)

“Water management is multidimensional. It embraces planning, design, construction, operation, and maintenance. Its ingredients include technological capability, social attitudes, economic realities, political viewpoints, and environmental goals." - W. Viessman Jr., in Water management: challenge and opportunity, Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management 116 (1990) (2), pp. 155–169.”

Instructor: Chris S. Renschler (rensch@buffalo.edu)

Project: Barry Boyer (boyer@buffalo.edu); Heather Collins (heatherc@byffalo.edu)

Time schedule: Tuesdays and Thursdays 9:30 - 10:50 am (144 Wilkeson)

Office Hours: Tuesday and Thursday 11:00 am - 12:00 pm (116 Wilkeson)

Audience: Graduate and Undergraduate Students in Geography, Geology, Civil & Environmental Engineering, Law, Planning, Environmental Studies, Business Administration and Management Science, or permission by instructor. According to the New York State Education Department, this course can count towards continuing education requirements to maintain your professional engineering license (please contact the instructor for more details).

Objectives: This interdisciplinary course introduces an integrated framework for environmental management that addresses biophysical, social, and economic issues affecting natural resources such as water, soil, air, plant and animal communities and their use through agriculture, forestry, fishery, mining, human settlements and industry. The multidisciplinary approach equips the participants with the necessary approaches and techniques to communicate effectively and develop sound management policy and practice in the context of the watershed scale ranging from small watersheds to large basins. The course presents detailed case studies and outlines methods for problem definition and goal setting to elect management strategies and procedures for monitoring and implementation.

Required Textbook: Heathcote, Isobel W. 1998. Integrated Watershed Management: Principles and Practice. Wiley. 414 p.

The course includes the following topics:

  • Environmental properties and processes/watershed components and processes
  • Establishing management plan parameters and objectives
  • Stakeholder identification and consultation
  • Development of practical management options
  • Methods and modeling tools for the assessment of management alternatives
  • Techniques for determining the legal implications
  • Environmental, economic, and social impact assessment, and
  • Choosing the best plan and implementing it.

Class Project: This year all students will focus in their individual projects on building community resilience against floods and other extreme events related to water, such as soil erosion, bank erosion, ice jams, landslides, waste water, pollution, climate change, etc. The student activities are integrated in two research and outreach projects that are located in the Cattaraugus Creek watershed: the formerly EPA/US Corps of Engineers-sponsored Cattaraugus Creek Watershed Strategy and the new NSF-funded Information Products Laboratory for Emergency Response (IPLER). While the first project is an outreach activity initiated by the UB Law School to engage stakeholders in an integrated long-term watershed planning process, the mission of IPLER is to create a technology, policy and business development incubator to facilitate interaction and innovation among university researchers, private sector service and product providers, and public sector decision makers in particular for emergency response to extreme events (e.g. floods and fires).

Students will communicate with a project partner or stakeholder to investigate their specific interest and specific plans in managing water quantity and quality in the Cattaraugus Creek Watershed. Throughout the course students will get to know through discussions and presentations the details about all other stakeholders' interests and plans from project partners involved in the project. As a consequence of that interaction, the students will outline in their individual report A) the position of their assigned project partner/stakeholder (this portion of the report should be approved by the stakeholder contact) and B) propose possible solutions on how that position fits into an integrated watershed management plan that fits all stakeholders. The contributions to this project will offer not only a real contribution of all students as consultants outlining and designing an integrated watershed management plan that could be potentially implemented sometime in the future, but also the experience and contacts that will help students to potentially land internships or other future career opportunities in integrated environmental management.

Stakeholders that participated in the past are: US Army Corps of Engineers (Tony Friona), Natural Resources Conservation Service (John Whitney), Soil and Water Conservation District (Brian Davis for Cattaraugus County and Mark Gaston for Erie County), Sierra Club (Larry Beahan), Forecon (Rick Constantino), Coalition on West Valley Nuclear Wastes (Judy Einach), WNY Chapter of the Society of American Foresters (Matt Smith), Cattaraugus Creek Watershed Task Force & Zoar Valley Nature Society (Julie Broyles), Cattaraugus County Dept. of Economic Development Planning & Tourism (Chris Crawford), Cattaraugus Co. Ag. & Farmland Protection Board & PDRs (Joan Petzen), The Nature Conservancy (Pat McGlew), and WNY Land Conservancy (Patricia Szarpa). Potential involvement of other stakeholders this year are: NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, Erie County Fisheries Advisory Board, Erie County Department of Environment & Planning, Village of Gowanda, Town of Evans, Town of Sardinia, USDA Cornell University Cooperative Extension, Brown Swiss Association, New York Rural Water Association, Seneca Nation of Indians Department of Environmental Protection for Cattaraugus County, and Zoar Valley Paddling Club. (In case you are a stakeholder we are not aware of please contact the instructor at rensch@buffalo.edu).

Schedule: The official course web page is only accessible through UBlearns - enrolled students must check on UBlearns for the latest updates in schedule and syllabus.

Week Dates Tuesday Thursday
    required reading (textbook chapter) & related case study presentation (CS. = Case Study) related class project presentations (invited speaker)
1   Introductory Lecture (Ch. 1) Class Project Overview: Cattaraugus Creek Watershed Strategy (Barry Boyer, UB Law School) & Information Products Laboratory for Emergency Response (IPLER) (Chris Renschler)
2   Environmental/Watershed Inventory (Ch. 2) & Problem Definition & Scoping (Ch. 3) Managing the Great Lakes (Joseph Atkinson, Environmental Engineering, UB)
3   Consultation Process (Ch. 4) & Project Partner/Stakeholder Assignment for Student Projects Managing our Rivers (Lynda Schneekloth, UB School of Architecture and Planning and Margaret Wooster, Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper)
4   Developing Workable Management Options (Ch. 5) Simple Assessment Methods (Ch. 6)
5   Detailed Assessment Methods (Ch. 7) Legal, Institutional & Admin. Concern (Ch. 9) What’s Law got to do with it? (Barry Boyer, UB School of Law)
6   Communication for Best Practices in Soil and Water Conservation (John Whitney, USDA-NRCS Erie County; and Jody Clark, Seneca Nation of Indians) Watershed Modeling (Craig Forgette and Byron Rupp Corps of Engineers, Buffalo District)
7   Great Lakes Watershed Management (Don Zelazny, Great Lakes Coordinator, New York State Dept of Environmental Conservation) Student Projects Discussion (Barry Boyer, UB School of Law) (Instructor at conference)
8   IPLER/WASP (Don McKeown, Rochester Institute of Technology) (Stephanie Burgess, Erie County Emergency Management) Managing Landslides and other Geohazards in WNY (Mike Sheridan, UB Geology) (Instructor at conference)
9   Costing & Financing (Ch. 8) & Environmental & Social Impact Assessment (Ch. 10) Choosing the Best Plan (Ch. 11) & Implementing the Plan (Ch. 12)
10   Student Project Introductory Seminars* Student Project Introductory Seminars*
11   Student Project Introductory Seminars* UN - World Network of Biosphere Reserves (CS. 1) Spain - Watershed Inventory and Modeling for Agricultural Management (CS. 2) Bolivia - The privatization of public water works (CS. 3) US - Modeling Watersheds for Forest Management (CS. 4) Community Resilience against Extreme Events - Integrated Disaster Management (CS. 5)
12   No Class Individual Student Project Presentations** 8am-12pm in 509 O’Brian Hall Public Presentation as part of GAW 2009 (Geography Awareness Week)

  Notice longer time commitment required on Nov 19 All stakeholders and the public are invited!

Program on Nov 19 starting at 8 am (PRESENTER):

8:00 Coffee and Cookies (sponsored by the Student Bar Association)

8:05 Introduction to this research, teaching and outreach activity (C. S. Renschler)

Stakeholders representing the County:
8:15 Erie County - Environmental Planning (J. Robinson)
8:22 Erie County Local Emergency Planning Committee (R. Mendieta)
8:29 Emergency Management – Cattaraugus County (J. Lyons)
8:36 Soil and Water Conservation District – Storm water (C. Carmelia)
8:43 Soil and Water Conservation District –Stream bank erosion (K. Nelson)

Stakeholders representing the State:
8:50 NYS DEC- Great Lakes Program (S. Barker)
8:57 NYS DEC (T. Lewis)
9:04 NYS Energy Research and Development Authority (L. Matteson)

Stakeholders representing the Nation:
9:15 US Army Corps of Engineers – Sediment sources (M. Fay)
9:22 US Army Corps of Engineers – Sediment sinks (R. Coly)
9:29 US Natural Resources Conservation Service – Erie County (J. Yang)
9:36 Seneca Nation of Indians – Legal Issues (L. Moussari)
9:43 Seneca Nation of Indians – Drinking water (T. Weaver)
9:50 Seneca Nation of Indians – Flooding (R. Rosenbaum)

Other Stakeholders:
10:00 UB Archeological Survey (D. Kratt)
10:07 Riverkeeper (J. Ford)
10:14 The Nature Conservancy (Steve Tulowieki)
10:21 Nature Sanctuary Society of Western New York (A. Anthony)
10:28 FORECON (B. Wang)
10:35 American Red Cross (M. Ridgeway)
10:42 The Media (Z. Balavia) – Movie Clip

13   Final Project Report due Nov 24 11:59 pm*** No classes - Thanksgiving/Fall Recess
14   No Classes
Project Report Evaluation
(pick up starting Nov 30 Noon)
Project Report Evaluation
Session I (8:30-9:00), II (9:10-9:40),
III (9:50-10:20) & IV (10:30-11:00)
(check groups on Nov 19th)
15   Q & A session for final report
Course Evaluation
Water Wars - Documentary
Revised reports are due Dec 10 in class!

Activities: Students are evaluated [% of total grade] based on their performance in:

  • [10%] a 200 word project abstract + a list of references (due by email on Oct 3)
  • [20%] *a student seminar introducing their project (5 minutes presentation + 2 minutes discussion
  • [20%] **a final project presentation (5 minutes presentation + 2 minutes discussion)
  • [30%] a final project report (2,000 to 2,500 words; due by hard copy (Wilkeson 105) and UBlearns; send me an email notice by Nov 24 Noon that you submitted your report)
  • [10%] project review comments (pickup for review packages starts Dec 1 in class; filled out review sheets and marked up reports are due in class as assigned
  • [ 5%] attendance, and
  • [ 5%] participation in discussions.

The final letter grades are A (90-100%), A- (85-89%), B+ (80-84%), B (75-79 %), B- (70-74%), C+ (65-69%), C (60-64%), C- (56.6-60%), D+ (53.3-56.6%), D (50-53.3%), and F (0-50%). PowerPoint presentations for seminar and project presentations need to be submitted through UBlearns drop box and email notice to instructor at 5pm the day prior to the scheduled presentation. Failure to submit in time will result in a point reduction (10%; 25% if provided in class). Make-up presentations have to be presented in the following class. Late submission of abstract, project report, and review comments will result in a point reduction of 10% per day.

Each seminar presentation, abstract, project presentation, and final project report are evaluated based on the following key (you have to address all five aspects):

  1. Introduction/Problem Definition (20%)
  2. Approach/Methods (20%) (Represents Project Partner/Stakeholder Position)
  3. (Expected/proposed/achieved) Results/Discussion (20%)
  4. (Expected//proposed/achieved) Conclusions/Recommendations (20%), and
  5. Graphic Support/Tables/References (Format for Citations) (20%).

Students registered at the undergraduate level (Geo 470) will not be evaluated as the advanced graduate level (Geo570). As a consequence graduate students are required to an additional 30% of words in their final project report and are expected to cover additional reading material in their list of references and for their review sessions.

For incomplete work, academic integrity, and disability services refer to the University undergraduate Incomplete Policy, Integrity Policy, and the University’s Disability Service Office (you must register with the office to receive accommodation for physical and learning disabilities), respectively.