By Cassandra Stuart
May 24, 2022
In Summer 2021, Cassandra worked on a project with the EPA which assessed the role combined sewer overflow (CSO) events in the (in)availability of water for recreational use, the potential adverse health effects that may occur due to primary contact recreation, and greenspace solutions such as rain gardens, green roofs, and semi-porous/porous surface covers as a means of limiting overflow events. In a CSO, the same system drains stormwater, sewage, and industrial wastewater. Excessive and/or heavy rainfall may overwhelm the system’s capacity and excess wastewater containing untreated sewage and other contaminants is discharged to nearby bodies of water. In cities with this type of sewer system, there are a number of elements which can be thought of as modifying factors as related to the quality of water in local waterways. These include, but are not limited to, stormwater infrastructure, the amount and frequency of rainfall, surface material (hard/impervious material, porous paving, green cover), and cleanliness of the surface (litter, chemical waste, debris, etc.). Based on the way that combine sewer systems are designed and, in a time where extreme weather events are growing more frequent, the corresponding limited access to water for recreational purposes was explored.
The project also investigated the economic considerations associated with improving recreational access to public waterways. This analysis included economic impacts at both the individual and community levels, and also the potential for revenue to be generated through recreational activities. Final recommendations included several potential methods of economic valuation which may be used, whether singularly or in combination, to assess public support for investment in cleaner water (specifically for the purpose of expanded recreational opportunities). Based on this work, Cassandra was awarded the 2022 Charles “Chick” Roberts Scholarship. This is a scholarship awarded in recognition of a Pennsylvania undergraduate or graduate student studying water technologies.
Cassandra Stuart is currently enrolled in the MPH/MBA dual degree program at Drexel University, with a concentration in Health Management & Policy, and she completed her undergraduate education at Rutgers University – Newark with a major in Biology. Cassandra has recently started working at Drexel’s Urban Health Collaborative as a Research Assistant with the Climate Change and Health Equity Working Group. She previously completed an internship with the EPA and is excited to build on the foundations of environmental justice that she gained there.