Partnering with Communities to Address Resilience to Climate Change

Global Discovery Series: A Faculty Lecture Series
Howard Neukrug, Miriam Hacker, Erica DePalma, Shandor Szalay
Oct 14, 2022 at -

As cities look to adapt to climate change and extreme weather events, we need to make sure that our vulnerable populations are not left behind. In this webinar, Professor Howard Neukrug, Executive Director of The Water Center at Penn (WCP), will converse with his colleagues about ways in which the Center is approaching these issues based on three WCP projects. These projects include:

  • Extreme Weather Adaptation where Miriam Hacker, Senior Research Implementation Lead at the Water Center, will discuss the social, political, and economic implications of adjusting to water scarcity and water excess by finding alternative water systems, like decentralized and stormwater reuse.
  • Localized Flooding where Erica DePalma, Senior Water Systems Program Manager at the Water Center, will discuss a dynamic and participatory process connecting upstream and downstream communities to address flooding and other challenges within the Darby-Cobbs watershed (a NOAA-funded project).
  • City-Wide Storm Water Planning where Shandor Szalay, WCP Senior Advisor, will review our recent equity-based Storm Water Management Strategic Plan for the City of Pittsburgh.


Professor Howard Neukrug is the former Commissioner and CEO of Philadelphia Water, where he was responsible for all aspects of utility operations, environmental compliance, engineering, financing, budgeting, capital and strategic planning, customer service, human resources, and legal and policy decisions for its drinking water/wastewater/stormwater system serving 2.3 million people. He is currently a Professor of Practice in the Earth and Environmental Sciences Department where he is establishing a Water Center and teaching courses on “The Water Industry in the 21st Century” and “The Role of Water in Urban Sustainability and Resiliency.” He is a Principal with CASE Environmental LLC where he provides consulting services to cities and utilities in urban planning, systems design, sustainability, organization development, strategic planning and trends and innovations in the global water industry. Mr. Neukrug is a national expert, lecturer and inspirational leader in moving from innovation to implementation; integrated urban water systems; river management; utility operations; water policy; drinking water quality and treatment; and green infrastructure. He is the creator of Philadelphia’s $2.5 billion “Green City, Clean Waters” program which has revolutionized how American cities approach land and water management for sustainability and resiliency. He is an advisor to the US EPA and to the water industry where he has nearly 40 years of experience.

Miriam Hacker comes to the Water Center with a background in civil engineering from the University of Washington and a passion for understanding social implications from water and wastewater issues. Her professional experience includes stormwater regulation at a local level and strategic coordination in international development. Her doctoral research in civil engineering investigated the coordination of temporary accommodation for people seeking asylum in Germany, Sweden and Lebanon. Most recently, her work as a postdoctoral researcher with the Swiss Federal Institute for Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag) focused on the socio-technical barriers for adoption of on-site water reuse at a city level in the United States. As cities look to adapt water and wastewater infrastructure to climate change, Miriam’s passion lies in the organizational and institutional response to these initiatives and impacts for the local community.

Erica DePalma, LPS’20 earned her Master in Applied Geosciences with a focus in hydrology from the University of Pennsylvania. She has conducted water resource projects all over the world and currently leads a variety of the Water Center’s grant funded projects, particularly those focused on water affordability and water equity. Ultimately, she seeks to contribute professionally to mitigating the strain systemic injustices have on ensuring access to plentiful high-quality drinking water. Erica holds a Bachelor of Science from Fordham University and her previous work experience includes natural resource stewardship and fluvial geomorphology research within the NYC Department of Environmental Protection’s Stream Management Program.

Shandor Szalay’s work focuses on helping cities to develop and deploy integrated solutions to water quality and flooding problems that include connected networks of urban greening, floodplain restoration, and smart stormwater systems, among other technologies. Shandor’s focus is finding ways to target these investments where they will be the most successful, equitable. and cost-effective at scale and over the long term. His specific research interests include understanding the effects of operations and maintenance, design, and siting choices on the performance of green infrastructure systems, the use of alternative project delivery models such as public/private partnerships for accelerating investments in flood mitigation and water quality, and analytical methods for optimizing stormwater management systems to reduce sediment pollution due to stream channel erosion. Before joining the Water Center Shandor was a Principal at AKRF where he directed the firm’s Water Resources Practice. Shandor is a graduate of the University of Minnesota and the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, NY.



Email: jwiseley@upenn.edu

Date & Location

Date: 10/14/2022
Time: 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM

Location: VIRTUAL