i-Three Issue Corps – Agents are Extra Sets of Eyes, Ears and Hands When It Comes to Stormwater

Stormwater management is typically thought of as an urban issue.  If we define stormwater as water leaving the land after a rain event, we also have stormwater management issues in rural areas.

runoff beside a road
Urban runoff in Knoxville TN
Picture by Gary L Hawkins

My i-Three Corps project involves providing training and educational materials to the University of Georgia County Extension Agents in all three program areas.  In Georgia, our agents work in the areas of Agricultural and Natural Resources (ANR), 4-H and Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS).  Within each of these areas there is some aspect of stormwater management that can be applied, taught or aid provided to the citizens of a county, the county government, federal government or consultants working on stormwater practices within the county.

An example could be that one of these agents could get an Urban call in the morning wanting to know how to better manage water in their yard and then getting a call in the afternoon wanting to know how to reduce the erosion from their cropping field.

runoff from a field
Agricultural runnoff in rural Georgia
Picture by Gary L Hawkins

Both of these are stormwater issues that may not need to be fully handled by the agents, but by them having some knowledge of stormwater management, they can start the conversation with the homeowner or farmer and then be prepared to discuss the issue with the County or City engineer, stormwater manager or road crews.

To better prepare the agents and as part of my i-Three project, I have been updating our stormwater resources for agents, providing training about the Georgia Stormwater Manual, filming videos to be used for teaching stormwater and pollution prevention and other activities that should help the agents be an extra set of eyes, ears and hands in their counties to deal with stormwater water issues in either the Urban or Rural parts of the county.  These could be aiding in diagnosing issues with rain garden drainage to reducing erosion in crop field through use of residue management.

These ladies and gentlemen have their hands full everyday with multiple issues, I am not trying to make them stormwater experts, but rather providing them with tools that can be used to aid the homeowners, farmers, government agency personnel and consultants in their counties.  By having some knowledge and resources available, they can be an extra set of eyes, ears and hands in the county to help reduce runoff, reduce erosion and help prevent pollution in their county.