The Rhode Island Green Infrastructure Coalition
Interview with Sara Churgin of
The Rhode Island Eastern Conservation District at

The New England Water Environment Association 
2019 Annual Conference & Exhibit

Boston, February 2019

In February, Sara Churgin of the ERICD attended the Annual Conference of NEWEA in Boston and led a workshop on the work of the Rhode Island Green Infrastructure Coalition. The RI GIC interviewed Sara about that workshop and here is that interview:
Q: Hi Sara, who sponsored this conference that you attended?
Sara: The name of the sponsoring organization is the New England Water Environment Association Inc. and is abbreviated as NEWEA and their conference was help in Boston in February 2019. The Association is a member of the national Water Environment Federation. Their objectives are to advance the fundamental knowledge of the water environment, its basic qualities, and physical laws governing its interaction with other aspects of the environment, and with the aesthetic, economic, and biological needs of the earth's inhabitants; to advance the knowledge and technology in the design, construction, operation, and management of water quality systems and facilities and to increase the knowledge and understanding of the earth's water environment, and encourage and promote action necessary for its enhancement.
Q: How did it come about that you asked to lead a workshop?
Sara: Last summer, the regional NEWEA conference was held in Newport.  As part of that event, the conference participants were looking to volunteer some time to a community based green infrastructure project and they heard about the GIC work on Aquidneck Island. I immediately looped them into the rain garden being installed at the Common Fence Point Community Center in Portsmouth.

That 700 square foot project was just getting off the ground and we needed engineering assistance, which was prompted donated by Pare Engineering. The conferees also participated in the installation of the rain garden in June and joined 30 other community volunteers to install this terrific green infrastructure site. As a result, the GIC has developed a strong working relationship with NEWEA and Pare. They invited me to come and present information on the Common Fence Point project in one of their workshops at the annual conference and I jumped at the opportunity.
Q: What was the workshop about and who else presented at this workshop?
Sara: The workshop was entitled: “Public Education: Greening our World: Community Involvement in Stormwater Quality Improvements” and the moderators were Allison McMordie from Tighe & Bond and  Danielle DiRuzza of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority. 

It was a technical session and my co-presenters discussed topics such as  “Continuous Monitoring of Green Infrastructure at Boston’s Middle Schools” ; “Approaches for Using Youth Education to Increasing Stormwater Awareness”; “Think Blue Massachusetts—A Statewide Stormwater Awareness Campaign."  My follow presenters were: Kerry Reed, City of Framingham, MA/Massachusetts Statewide Municipal Stormwater Coalition,Kate Roosa of Kleinfelde and Marc Weller of Pare Corporation and myself. 
Q: What was your biggest takeaway from both the Annual Meeting and your participation in the workshop? 

Sara: I believe that the RI GIC needs to continue to cultivate our relationships with the private sector. The strengths of the GIC are our connections to community, our public outreach capabilities and our commitment to continuing to incentive green spaces to manage storm water. With partners in the private sector we can increase our effectiveness and bring projects on line faster all across Rhode Island.
Save the Date! All are welcome to join us!

The next statewide meeting of the RI Green Infrastructure Coalition is

Thursday April 18 at 10:00am
Save the Bay
Save the Bay Drive
Providence, RI
Nature At Work is a newsletter designed and distributed by the Rhode Island Green Infrastructure Coalition to bring more green space news to our cities and encourage the use of nature to clean, protect, and cool our neighborhoods.  Because of climate change, we are seeing increased heat impacts in our city, especially where there are fewer trees, as well as issues with flooding and polluted runoff in our neighborhoods.

Sara Churgin is the Director of the Eastern Rhode Island Conservation District out of Portsmouth.

The Green Infrastructure Coalition is a collaborative of more than 40 non-profit organizations, businesses, and government agencies focused on using nature to reduce stormwater pollution. We develop projects to demonstrate the powerful role nature can play to create healthier urban environments. We promote policies to create sustainable funding for stormwater management and green infrastructure solutions. And we connect a wide range of partners to share lessons learned in the Providence Metro area and Aquidneck Island.


RI-GIC Website