Planning the Future of Stormwater Management
Posted July 14, 2011
By Mike Beezhold, Senior Planner, CDM
I was excited and encouraged last month to see the effort put forward by WEF staff and the participation by stormwater professionals from around the country to contemplate The Future of Stormwater. The June 21-22 facilitated conversation in Alexandria came at a critical juncture of anticipated increased regulations, difficult economic climate, and a couple of decades of stormwater experience among regulated communities. Experts deliberated the biggest issues in stormwater as well as those facing stormwater professionals, and the discussion format was primarily brainstorming rather than trying to reach consensus or prioritize needs. Significant issues included the uncertainty of regulations, cost of monitoring, limited experience with stormwater best management practices or BMPs and green infrastructure, lack of capital and maintenance cost data, limited dedicated funding sources and the need for leadership and liaison with regulatory agencies. We were all encouraged that the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) staff joined the discussion and shared the latest in the stormwater rulemaking.
On day two, thinking out of the box was encouraged to discuss ways to move the profession forward to address future regulatory demands, barriers to acceptance and implementation, and funding constraints. One out-of-the-box suggestion was to tie funding requirements to MS4 permits to ensure a base level of funding to meet regulatory requirements as well as capital and O&M demands of this critical but seldom seen infrastructure. Since attending the first Stormwater Council meeting at WEFTEC 2010, I have felt that WEF can provide the credibility to the stormwater field as it has built for the wastewater profession, and the group concurred with the future of WEF’s leadership role in the stormwater community. This alignment would inherently bring with it WEF’s good rapport and respect within the regulatory community, allowing stormwater professionals to collectively engage in proactive ways to steer good policy rather than reactively as one among many regulated entities. Before departing, the experts laid the foundation for both stormwater vision and mission statements for WEF and the newly formed Stormwater Council to be drafted in time for WEFTEC 2011. To learn more visit the Access Water Knowledge stormwater webpage at www.wef.org/stormwater.