Speaker Katharine Burgess: Harvesting the Value of Water

Cities across Iowa and the country have been learning to live harmoniously with water. Not only are these places having to address growing concerns about flooding and extreme storms. Cities are also recognizing water as a resource to make more sustainable and livable communities.

Increasingly, developers are showing that cities can live with stormwater and enjoy it, too – creating water features and green infrastructure, for example, that not only catch rainfall but also serve as attractive amenities, and provide eye-catching visual features for parks and plazas.

This is detailed in a recent report titled “Harvesting the Value of Water,” whose lead author, Katharine Burgess of the Urban Land Institute, was a recent speaker in the Tomorrow Plan Speaker Series. Burgess is the Vice President of Urban Resilience at the Urban Land Institute, where she leads research, advisory services, and outreach related to urban resilience.

“Private sector developers and designers are playing a growing role in meeting cities’ water goals,” she says, noting that cities are requiring or incentivizing developers to incorporate better stormwater practices into their projects. “These water management mechanisms have the potential to create value for real estate projects by enhancing aesthetics, operational efficiency, and building user experience.”

Burgess’s talk is timely for Greater Des Moines, which has experienced significant flash flooding recently, and where the rivers and creeks are increasingly being seen as recreational amenities to be enjoyed and celebrated. Her keynote talk will be followed by a panel discussion with local experts.

A panel of local experts discusses local initiatives, as well. They included Tom Hadden, West Des Moines City Manager; John Swanson, with Polk Soil and Water Conservation District; and Staci Williams, ISG and the Capital Crossroads Central Iowa Water Trails Incubator. The panel was moderated by Perry Beeman, Managing Editor of the Des Moines Business Record. The event opened with a presentation by State Climatologist Justin Glisan.

All of the speakers’ slides are included below.

Thank you to the generous sponsors of this event.