Objective 1: citizen science

Urbanization, climate change, and infrastructure mismanagement are rapidly exacerbating strains on stormwater infrastructure. Stormwater management in urban areas is particularly complex due to the development of impervious land surfaces, many sources of water quality impairment, and concerns about environmental justice. Inadequate stormwater infrastructure can lead to urban flooding, which induces negative physical and non-physical impacts and other socioeconomic ramifications. Uncontrolled pollution in stormwater runoff from urban areas represents an important public health concern. Improved stormwater management in urban areas requires detailed observations of water levels, discharge rates in streams and storm sewers, and water quality parameters. 

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We utilize two forms of citizen science to improve urban stormwater infrastructure management: (i) crowdsourced app-based data collection for identifying stormwater flooding events and (ii) citizen-engaged hands-on water quality testing. We hypothesize that citizen science will increase public awareness of the importance of green infrastructure on water quality and improve public literacy on water quality impairment concerns in addition to providing improved stormwater monitoring and modeling. This objective will be accomplished through four tasks:

Task 1.1: deployment of a mobile stormwater monitoring app for crowdsourced data collection

Task 1.2: implementation of stormwater sensors for comparison with crowdsourced observations

Task 1.3: application of an in-person training and testing program for water quality samples

Task 1.4: assessment of the role of citizen science programs to improve water infrastructure management

The results are expected to improve public water and infrastructure policies, particularly of the potential for citizen science programs to improve water equity in disadvantaged communities in racially-segregated cities such as Chicago.


Whitney Young HS
June 2024
Training session at IIT’s CAEE
April 2024
Englewood walk
February 2024