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environmental practicum spring 2014

ECOL 8710/JURI 5290
The class meets Wednesdays, 10:10 am - 12:05 pm, in Room D of the Law School unless noted otherwise.


About the Practicum
Faculty: Laurie Fowler, Law and Ecology.

The fall class includes only law students and the spring class includes graduate students in law, environmental design, ecology, forestry and engineering. The purpose of the class is to provide you an opportunity to apply knowledge learned in the classroom to solve real environmental problems faced by clients. This includes learning/applying skills in problem identification, analysis of viewpoints and motivations of all relevant actors, policy development (taking these viewpoints/motivations into account) and communicating the need for and content of your policy. Another major purpose of the spring class is to provide an opportunity to work with students and faculty from other disciplines to develop sustainable environmental solutions.

Students will engage in a group project and will also be responsible for two or three independent assignments of their choosing spaced throughout the semester (we call these "memos").

We intend the class lectures to be rather broad in scope so as to be useful to all the students in the class but they will cover topics that are essential to an understanding of the group projects.

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All dates are Wednesdays unless specified otherwise.

1/8 Introduction to Practicum and Group Projects


DUE: Political Autobiography

  • 9:15-10:05 a.m. Meeting of law students and other ACFS group members to receive memo assignment
  • 10:10-Noon Political Bio Game
  • Selection of Group Projects
  • Meeting of Campus Restoration Group w/ assisting faculty


  • 9:10 a.m. Sanders Board Room/Rusk Hall: Law students meet w/ Laurie to discuss future class lectures (on topics assigned last week) and their ACFS GAP Analysis assignments (see below)
  • 10:10 a.m. Sanders Board Room/Rusk Hall: Class meets briefly as a group to receive instructions on journaling and some class logistics
  • 10:30 a.m.-noon: Groups split up to work on work plans and during this time the Campus Restoration Group (including James, Laura K., Hunter, Ben and Justin in addition to Chase and Chris) will stay in our classroom to meet w/ some of their clients and advisors
  • DUE: Draft memos for those law students working on the GAP Analysis; note your work product might not actually be in memo format! We might move this deadline back a little bit for those of you working on the education, ag efficiency and recreation components described below depending on when I've had a chance to give you details of your assignment
  • DUE: Work plan to the extent your group has developed to date; make sure this identifies opportunities for students who chose your topic as their secondary interest
  • 9:30 a.m. Seminar Room/Ecology Bldg.: Laurie meets with (1) law students who have pending ACFS memo assignments and (2) Chase and Hunter re next week’s CWA lecture)
  • 10:10 a.m.-noon Seminar Room/Ecology Bldg.: Some/most groups will present their work plans to the class. We will make sure that every student has been assigned their individual memo topics/due dates today
DUE: Final memo for those law students working on the GAP Analysis
  • 9:30 a.m. Seminar Room/Ecology Bldg.: Laurie meets with Tyler, Justin, Travis, Hunter and Philip to discuss individual research on the ACFS project
  • 10:10 a.m. Seminar Room/Ecology Bldg.: presentation and discussion of work plans
  • Due: Final Group Workplans (except for the Land Trust support group)
  • 9:00 a.m. Library/Ecology Bldg.: Laurie meets with Land Trust Support Group
  • 9:30 a.m. Library/Ecology Bldg.: Laurie meets with Hunter and Chase to talk about the upcoming Clean Water Act/Nonpoint Source lecture
  • 10:10 a.m. Seminar Room/Ecology Bldg.: Work plan presentations from groups who haven't yet presented, administrative issues, discussion with Prof. Jim Porter
  • 10:10 a.m. Room D/Law School: Lecture on the federal Clean Water Act (Hunter and Chase)
  • Constructed wetlands for wastewater treatment and a previous practicum project for the Sewanee, TN, Utility District
DUE: Journals
Red Clay Conference; earn an extra point for attendance
  • 10:10 a.m. Seminar Room/Ecology Bldg.: Lecture on the law on water allocations, how interstate water disputes are resolved and the legal controversy in the ACF basin and strategies other jurisdictions have adopted to manage water across state boundaries. (Philip, Travis and Laurie)
  • Class discussion about lessons learned from project work to date

Room D/Law School: Lecture on wetlands protection under the federal Clean Water Act and how the federal program has evolved as a result of a couple of U.S. Supreme Court cases (Brian and Tyler) and Katie Sheehan, staff attorney at the River Basin Center, will talk about how state and local governments have stepped in to protect wetlands

  • Seminar Room/Ecology Bldg.: Lecture on less-than-fee land protection (Robert and Justin)
  • Status meeting about our group work-- how is everyone doing and how do we go out with a bang?



Room D/Law School: Lecture on green infrastructure/stream restoration for water protection (Jon Calabria and Alfie Vick, College of Environment and Design)

4/9 NO CLASS - ACFS support group (Brian and David) will be at work w/ the ACFS in Apalachicola
  • Room D/Law School: Status meeting and possible dress rehearsal for the groups who are formally presenting to their clients
  • DUE: Draft Group Products
4/23 Seminar Room/Ecology Bldg.: Final class meeting with each group presenting their findings
4/28 Classes End
DUE: ALL FINAL PRODUCTS—Group, Memos (if applicable) and Journals
Grades Due

Please note: The course syllabus is a general plan for the course; deviations announced to the class by the instructors may be necessary.

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Faculty and Staff Contact Information

Laurie Fowler lfowler@uga.edu 706-202-9949
Tyra Byers tyrab@uga.edu 706-542-1301
Jon Calabria jcalabr@uga.edu 706-542-0903
Ron Carroll ronecology@gmail.com  
Katie Sheehan katiesheehan80@gmail.com 706-583-0463
Jenny Yearwood yearwood@uga.edu 706-583-0463

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Class listserv: envpracticum-L@listserv.uga.edu






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Individual "Memo" Assignments

Many of these have not been assigned yet; one option we are exploring now is whether there are smaller, discrete research needed for some of the group projects so your individual memo topic might be on your second choice for group project. We should be able to identify where this is the case w/n the next couple of weeks as we meet w/ clients and develop work plans.

The following have been assigned:

A. ACFS Gap Analysis

  • A paragraph or three about Clemson's Intelligent River Project on the Savannah River and any other real-time monitoring efforts such as this, some stakeholders in the ACF are interested in this concept for their basin (Hunter)
  • Status of Alabama Water (Allocation and Conservation ) Plan (Robert)
  • Power generation—who in the US or the world is doing research on more efficient use of water in power generation (hydro, gas, nuclear and coal) and provide paragraph or two about each entity—what are they doing, who are they, how are they funded? (Travis and Philip)
  • Recreation—Are there any current tri-state or bi-state attempts to promote water-related recreation in the ACF? Are there good examples of multi-government recreation efforts on other major river basins that we could identify for aspirational purposes? (Brian)
  • Education related to the ACF as a whole or related to transboundary water management (Tyler and Justin)
    • Includes courses on the ACF issue at universities in AL, FL, GA (UF, FL State, UGA, Albany State University, Auburn, Troy State, Georgia Tech)
    • Research and extension activities being conducted by these universities in areas of water conservation including more efficient use of water as it relates to ag)
    • Is there any central location at each university where you can access the ACF-related research?
    • Education and outreach by NGOs such as The Nature Conservancy, the Flint Riverkeeper, the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, the Apalachicola River or Baykeeper
  • Describe Agricultural Water Efficiency Efforts/Demonstration Sites (??)
    • Stripling Water Center
    • UGA/Tifton campus (via UGA prof George Velledis)
    • NFREC

B. Closure and post-closure requirements for constructed wetlands used for wastewater treatment (Hunter and Matt)

C. Liability issues related to Bike Repair/Share program which is being established at UGA (Chase)

D. Status of stormwater utility legislation in the state of Georgia (Tyler)

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Group Projects

Isolated Wetlands Literature Review

Wetlands have many important ecological functions and benefits (e.g. water storage and filtration, nutrient cycling, aquatic productivity, wildlife habitat) and also are economically valuable (e.g. generating tourism revenue, providing ecosystems services such as flood protection and water quality maintenance). Geographically isolated wetlands (GIW) are generally completely surrounded by upland at the local scale, and include both natural and artificial formations of varying size and character. The Clean Water Act was passed in 1972 as the primary federal law to protect bodies of water in the United States, of which GIW were originally included. However decisions by the Supreme Court in 2001 and 2006 have created uncertainty regarding the federal government's jurisdiction to protect GIW, essentially limiting the scope of the law by creating a burden to demonstrate that GIW have a "significant nexus" to navigable waters in order to be protected at the federal level pursuant to the Commerce Clause. The result of the Supreme Court rulings is that protection of GIWs is now largely dependent on land owners and managers at the state and local level through other avenues than the Clean Water Act to help them determine the appropriate actions to take. The purpose of this group project is to summarize the information available in key publications to assist policy makers and managers seeking to protect GIW by creating an easy-to-read document that is accessible to a wide audience. The literature review will cover the functions and services of GIW, the legal history regarding their protection before and after the 2006 ruling, how GIW can be restored or created, and the threats to GIW.

UGA Biological Water Reclamation Project
Robert Abrunzo, Sumner Gann, Ben Liverman

The UGA Biological Water Reclamation Project will focus on performing a detailed analysis in regards to whether a decentralized sewage reclamation system would be an effective treatment and water reclamation technology for the University of Georgia. In order to be effective, the system would need to successfully treat effluent from bio-digesters used to dispose of animal carcasses from the Veterinary School, as well as reclaim enough water to substantially save on water consumption and utility costs. This study will consider the following research to access the functionality of a decentralized sewage reclamation system: whether this technology will allow the Vet School to utilize the digesters to dispose of animal waste, where savings from reclaimed water can offset initial investment costs of implementation, and which size or type of reclamation technology would best serve the University's needs. This project was originally grounded in the interests of other campus entities, such as the Office of University Architects, the Office of Sustainability, the College of Environment and Design, and the College of Ecology, to implement a water reclamation machine that would contribute to the University's goals in Sustainability and Water Conservation. The project team will work to provide the necessary groundwork and background research for University administrators on whether reclaimed water systems will create significant enough cost savings, improved water security, and improved campus sustainability measures to warrant their consideration.


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Laurie Fowler, Co-Director for Policy - lfowler@uga.edu

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