“Aging Infrastructure, Ecosystem Restoration and the New Economy of Rivers” is the topic of the USU Water Initiative’s Nov. 13 seminar. Guest speaker is Martin Doyle, director of the Center for Landscape Change and Health, at the Institute for the Environment at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Doyle speaks Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. in the Engineering building, room 101. His talk is free and open to all. Refreshments are offered 15 minutes prior to the seminar.
Recent tragic infrastructure failures, most notably the August I-35 bridge collapse in Minneapolis, resulted in the passage of the National Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2007. The legislation calls for formation of the National Commission on the Infrastructure of the U.S. to assess the condition and sustainability of the nation’s infrastructure.
These new legislative developments coincide with ongoing efforts to manage and restore degraded ecosystems, says Doyle, associate professor in UNC’s Department of Geography. “This provocative intersection of aging infrastructure and environmental degradation provides unprecedented and largely unappreciated opportunities for ecosystem restoration. Moreover, this convergence of aging infrastructure and opportunistic restoration is occurring under federal policy initiatives that encourage open-market approaches toward environmental management.”
During his talk, Doyle will present a compilation of disparate national databases to quantify the magnitude of aging infrastructure and its associated environmental degradation.
“I’ll examine several cases in which infrastructure decommissioning was used to reduce safety or economic liability and also provide substantial ecological restoration,” he says. “These cases include dam removal, decommission of offshore oil platforms, abandonment of roads and the conversion of military bases to wildlife refuges.”
In addition, Doyle’s lecture will focus on the emerging economic drivers of small dam removal in the southeastern U.S., including use of dam decommissioning and removal to generate environmental credits to offset riparian development activities elsewhere.
“The environmental benefits of dam removal are shown to be superior to traditional river restoration efforts, yet current state policies favor well-established traditional restoration,” he says.
The USU Water Initiative is an interdisciplinary collaboration of the university’s Utah Water Research Laboratory and the colleges of Agriculture, Business, Engineering, Natural Resources, Science and Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences. Established in 2003, the initiative fosters collegial sharing of water-related research and ideas throughout campus and the community.
Parking for seminars is available in the university parking terraces at 850 E. 700 North and 700 E. 600 North. The USU campus is served by Logan Transit District Routes 1 and 4, with a bus stop at the Veterinary Science building on 700 North.