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Costs to provide essential public services, such as drinking water, wastewater treatment, and stormwater management, often strain municipal budgets. In response, communities are increasingly looking for alternative ways — beyond traditional infrastructure investment — to provide these services. One cost-effective option is to rely on the resources and processes that natural resources can supply. These functions, often called ecosystem services, can complement — or even offset — traditional infrastructure.
This PAS Memo article outlines an ecosystem services planning and implementation process; three case studies show how planners can use this approach for regional redevelopment, water resource conservation, and private engagement in stormwater management.
About the Author
Megan Lewis, AICP
Megan is a planner with 17 years of applied research experience with land-use planning, design, and conservation. She has worked on large-scale conservation planning, green infrastructure, brownfields redevelopment, parks and open space planning, climate change adaptation and mitigation, urban forestry, and NEPA-compliant environmental impact statements and environmental assessments. Megan has helped design training programs, facilitate stakeholder engagement activities, and manage public comment processes. Presently she is a project manager and planner with Cardno, an international environmental consulting and engineering firm. Prior to joining Cardno, Megan was a senior research associate at the American Planning Association, where she lead several complex, multi-year projects, focusing on environmental land use planning subjects. Among her projects she was the managing editor of Planning and Urban Design Standards, a leading reference book for planners and urban designers. Before joining APA she was an environmental land-use planner with Wallace Roberts & Todd (WRT) in Philadelphia, where she prepared environmental impact statements and environmental assessments for the Washington DC Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) green line development and extension. Prior to attending graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania she was a research associate with the Environmental Law Institute in Washington, D.C. Megan holds a BA in economics from Indiana University and an MA in regional planning from the University of Pennsylvania.