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IBS/Environment and Society Program Climate Justice Series: Marccus D. Hendricks

March 4 @ 12:00 pm 1:00 pm

Join in person or via Zoomemail for the password.
*Light lunch served at 11:45, please RSVP.

Title: Murky Waters and Environmental Risks: A Community-Driven Approach to Evaluate Exposures from Sanitary Sewer Overflows and Basement Backups

Abstract: Past studies in public health have demonstrated an association between disease and poor sanitation, such as waterborne illnesses and exposure to sewage-laden waters. Modern engineered stormwater and sanitary systems are some of history’s most lifesaving infrastructures. However, failure to maintain and rehabilitate these systems over the years, as well as changing environmental conditions, have created some pre-modern circumstances in cities across the world including Baltimore, Maryland. These risks may be particularly evident in marginalized urban neighborhoods that often have poorer stormwater and sanitation infrastructure and public works services. The Baltimore City sewer system has frequent overflows of its sanitary sewers due to an old and failing system and more frequent and intense rainfall events further overwhelming the system.

Dr. Marccus Hendricks will discuss the equity and environmental justice issues related to stormwater and sewer infrastructure planning that result in vulnerable systems and households impacted by flooding and exposed to untreated sewage. Specifically, he will examine conceptual frameworks and contextualize what it means for physical systems to operate in a social world. He will take a deeper dive into an ongoing case study where he and his team are using a mixed-method and community-driven approach to evaluate exposures from sanitary sewer overflows (SSO) and basement backups in Baltimore City. Lastly, Dr. Hendricks will highlight plans to leverage this work to shed light on these murky waters towards action and policy that integrates justice and participation into the remediation and future mitigation of these environmental risks. 

Bio: Marccus D. Hendricks is an Associate Professor of Urban Studies and Planning and is the Director of the Stormwater Infrastructure Resilience and Justice (SIRJ) Lab at the University of Maryland (UMD). He also holds appointments in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health. Recently, Dr. Hendricks served in the Biden-Harris Administration as a Senior Advisor for Climate and Community Resilience in the inaugural Office of Environmental Justice at the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) in the Executive Office of the President.

To date, he has primarily worked to understand how social processes and development patterns create hazardous human-built environments, vulnerable infrastructure, and the related risks and promising adaptation strategies related to, for example, urban stormwater management and flooding, industrial releases and explosions, and sanitary sewer overflows. Dr. Hendricks’ environmental justice portfolio spans working on the ground with communities from Texas, through the Carolinas, and into Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Pennsylvania. His work has been covered by or quoted in the Associated PressCNNNPRUSA TodayScientific AmericanHuffington PostBaltimore Sun, and Accuweather, to name a few.

While at UMD, Dr. Hendricks received two career awards from the Gulf Research Program of the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine and The JPB Environmental Health Fellows Program at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. Recently, he delivered a TEDx talk titled “Citizen Participation in Rising Waters” at Indiana University in Bloomington, IN. He was also selected as one of 50 emerging leaders or “Fixers” in the 2021 Grist 50, has served on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Science Advisory Board (SAB), and is an author on the Social Systems and Justice chapter of the U.S. Fifth National Climate Assessment. He holds a Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Science and a Master of Public Health, both from Texas A&M University. 

Program on International Development

IBS 155A

Institute of Behavioral Science 1440 15th Street
Boulder, CO 80302