The Penn State Initiative for Resilient Communities (PSIRC) provides an environment of shared discovery where stakeholders, decision-makers, designers, and researchers come together to address local resilience challenges related to land, water, energy, and climate change in the context of flood risk in small, riverine communities. PSIRC convenes faculty, students, postdocs, and staff spanning multiple colleges, centers, institutes, and disciplines along with a diverse array of external partners to address these challenges (learn more about our participants and partners).

This collaboration provides a stable foundation to tackle the broad range of issues relevant to resilience and economic development in Pennsylvania river towns. Historically and culturally significant urban centers and agrarian communities in the Susquehanna River basin are facing increased risks of floods – resulting in economic, environmental and social stresses. Many of these river towns are facing similar pressure, including:

  • Mandates for addressing storm water and nutrient management, crucial issues that left unaddressed negatively impact recreation river use and the quality of the Pennsylvania waterways and the Chesapeake Bay;
  • Impact of flood insurance on property values, high costs for mitigation, and property abandonment resulting in personal economic stress and community degradation.

These threats disproportionately affect low-income households, threaten tax revenue, and undermine the river’s potential as a cultural and recreational resource. Starting with a pilot project in partnership with the Borough of Selinsgrove, the tools, methods, and lessons learned will be generalized to inform decision-making for sustainability and resilience to riverine flooding in communities throughout the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and beyond.