Speakers at last week’s APWA Sustainability in Public Works Conference in San Diego addressed a wide range of topics, from emergency planning and resiliency to transportation to wastewater and energy. Many of the sessions were particularly relevant for erosion and sediment control and stormwater professionals.
One speaker, for example, discussing steps for flood preparedness, related a story about a resident in a community hit by wildfire. As soon as the fire was out, the man wrote to the local paper expressing gratitude that a large sediment basin happened to be located directly up the hill from his neighborhood—a lucky thing, he said, because firefighters had been able to use water from the basin in putting out the fire. What he didn’t realize, of course, was that the debris within that basin was likely to come washing down on him during the next rain. Much of the presentation dealt with the logistics—and the funding—involved in cleaning out the basin, and removing the burned trees on the hillside above it, before the rains began.
As we noted on the site last week, the upcoming fire season is predicted to be worse than usual, and unfortunately many communities will find themselves in similar situations: assessing what needs to be done most urgently after the fire, understanding which agency plays what role in the process, and figuring out how to pay for it all. A full-day class at StormCon in August, “Fire & Rain: Rapid Assessment and Emergency Mitigation Measures Following Wildfires,” will address all of these issues.