Stormwater Research Facility receives USDA grant to provide training for rural communities

Published: Nov 9, 2023 8:00 AM

By Dustin Duncan

Enhancing water quality by mitigating pollutants should be a top concern for most municipalities in Alabama. However, a lack of resources to provide training in some communities can result in environmental repercussions, such as sediment and soil erosion runoff from construction sites into bodies of water.

Michael Perez, associate professor in civil and environmental engineering, will collaborate with the Alabama Association of Conservation Districts on a $275K Technical Assistance and Training grant through the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide educational resources and stormwater management workshops for communities in Alabama’s Black Belt.

Perez is co-PI on the project “Innovate Erosion and Sediment Control Technologies: Hands-on Workshops and Public Outreach.” The project also partners with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians to provide training and education.

“This will provide resources for communities to send staff to our Stormwater Research Facility (AU-SRF) to attend hands-on training to gain insight on how to manage stormwater runoff,” Perez said.


People digging trenches at stormwater facility
A group of individuals digging trenches during a field day at Auburn University’s Stormwater Research Facility.

Paige Macdonald is a graduate student working with Perez on the project. She said many rural counties typically have fewer training opportunities and resources to improve their stormwater management.

"Training is sometimes not an option for many rural communities due to financial constraints. However, they face the problems as many other communities in the state," she said. 

Auburn’s Stormwater Research Facility will host a two-day installer training in May. Perez said the training is aimed at people in the field doing hands-on work.

“We’re going to do it all at our stormwater facility. We want folks to bring their gloves and boots, and we’re going to pound stakes into the ground and demonstrate how to implement these best practices,” Perez said.


people digging trenches wearing orange shirts.
Individuals dig trenches are part of an Auburn Stormwater Research Facility field day.

Participants in the installer training will also can attend the International Erosion Control Association Conference (IECA) Municipal Wet Weather Stormwater Conference, which is hosted in Auburn this year. Perez said this is where top industry professionals gather to learn about emerging trends and exchange ideas. 

The final perk of the grant is the opportunity to hold a field day at the AU-SRF, which will take place after the IECA conference. Perez said the facility will bring in product vendors, suppliers and manufacturers to display the latest technology available in stormwater management. 

"We're going to showcase all the emerging technology and products entering the industry," Perez said. "Recipients will not only receive multiple days of hands-on training but will also leave with knowledge of the latest equipment and technology available on the market."

The hands-on installer workshop is on May 13 and 14, the IECA conference is May 15 and 16, and the field day is on May 17.

Municipalities or industry professionals interested in applying for grant funds to attend the training, conference and field day can apply at or contact Perez at for more information.

Media Contact: Dustin Duncan,,
a woman sprays a hose

A woman sprays a powerful hose at a erosion and sediment control workshop at the Auburn University Stormwater Research Facility.

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