WEF Shares Stormwater Expertise on Capitol Hill

By Seth Brown
Posted May 21, 2014
 

 

Another data point related to the rise of stormwater occurred last week here in Washington, and WEF was literally at the table for this. The Senate Environment and Public Works committee held a  hearing focusing on the impacts of stormwater runoff associated with highways and roadways on infrastructure and the environment. This event is related to the leadership of Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), who is proposing to add language to an upcoming transportation bill requiring a baseline of stormwater runoff treatment associated with federal aid highway projects.

 

WEF staff and volunteers worked together to help provide technical information, and we proudly supported two of the seven hearing witnesses, Dan Medina (Atkins) and Jim Gibson (Sanitation District No. 1). Both of these professionals provided testimony based upon their technical background and experience. Dan, who led the development of MOP 23, Design of Urban Stormwater Controls, focused on technologies available to integrate stormwater management into linear construction projects, such as permeable friction course overlays, which is a great new approach to reduce highway splash and overspray, as well as provide a filtering media for highway runoff; this approach also promotes the view that we should take advantage of the opportunity to integrate green practices into the public right of way as we replace our aging infrastructure. Jim provided information based upon peer-reviewed studies documenting the impacts of uncontrolled runoff from various sources, including highways and roadways, on municipal infrastructure. He also provided specific examples including one that illustrated lost opportunities to enhance highway infrastructure in one county alone to the tune of $3 million. That’s due the fact that costs had to be diverted to address impacts from uncontrolled runoff on highway infrastructure. 


 

The hearing exposed the strong understanding of the issue by Sen. Cardin, as well as the knowledge brought to the table by the witnesses; this was especially true during the question/answer part of the hearing. An exchange between Sen. Cardin and Jim focused on the cost-effectiveness of proactively addressing stormwater runoff, with both agreeing that it is better to stay ahead of the issue. Questions for Dan came from both sides of the aisle, and focused on the costs associated with costs and retrofit efforts. The specific issue was whether retrofit efforts cost more than providing no stormwater management. Dan agreed that retrofits cost more than doing nothing, but reiterated his point that during this time of infrastructure rebuilding, the added cost of "doing things right" is often offset by the benefits gained; beyond that, he made the great point that someone will bear the cost of continuing to not address the problem, whether that be downstream communities or the U.S. Department of Transportation itself. 


 

As a self-proclaimed stormwater geek, I couldn’t help but cheer as Dan and Jim made great points, and I felt very proud to be part of an organization and a community that is forward-looking on an issue such as stormwater. Jim told me "it was very gratifying to be asked to share Northern Kentucky's experience and insight into effective storm water management, as well as being a part of a legislative hearing process and observing government in action." Dan added the following about his experience, "I'm grateful for the opportunity to offer the subcommittee a science-based point of view that reflects the state of the practice in stormwater management. Water does not know of political leanings or regulatory jurisdictions, and our lawmakers could benefit from engaging our industry more often to make decisions that are scientifically defensible." 


 

With professionals like these on our side, one can only be optimistic about our chances to move the needle on stormwater in the future and, who knows, maybe we’ll see start to see greener highways and roadways by the time my 4-year-old son is behind the wheel. 

 

 05/21/2014Permanent link

WEF Shares Stormwater Expertise on Capitol Hill  ()
 

WEF members provided testimony at Senate hearing on impacts of stormwater runoff associated with highways and roadways on infrastructure and the environment.  

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WEF Shares Stormwater Expertise on Capitol Hill

 Permanent link

WEF Shares Stormwater Expertise on Capitol Hill

By Seth Brown
Posted May 21, 2014
 

 

Another data point related to the rise of stormwater occurred last week here in Washington, and WEF was literally at the table for this. The Senate Environment and Public Works committee held a  hearing focusing on the impacts of stormwater runoff associated with highways and roadways on infrastructure and the environment. This event is related to the leadership of Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), who is proposing to add language to an upcoming transportation bill requiring a baseline of stormwater runoff treatment associated with federal aid highway projects.

 

WEF staff and volunteers worked together to help provide technical information, and we proudly supported two of the seven hearing witnesses, Dan Medina (Atkins) and Jim Gibson (Sanitation District No. 1). Both of these professionals provided testimony based upon their technical background and experience. Dan, who led the development of MOP 23, Design of Urban Stormwater Controls, focused on technologies available to integrate stormwater management into linear construction projects, such as permeable friction course overlays, which is a great new approach to reduce highway splash and overspray, as well as provide a filtering media for highway runoff; this approach also promotes the view that we should take advantage of the opportunity to integrate green practices into the public right of way as we replace our aging infrastructure. Jim provided information based upon peer-reviewed studies documenting the impacts of uncontrolled runoff from various sources, including highways and roadways, on municipal infrastructure. He also provided specific examples including one that illustrated lost opportunities to enhance highway infrastructure in one county alone to the tune of $3 million. That’s due the fact that costs had to be diverted to address impacts from uncontrolled runoff on highway infrastructure. 


 

The hearing exposed the strong understanding of the issue by Sen. Cardin, as well as the knowledge brought to the table by the witnesses; this was especially true during the question/answer part of the hearing. An exchange between Sen. Cardin and Jim focused on the cost-effectiveness of proactively addressing stormwater runoff, with both agreeing that it is better to stay ahead of the issue. Questions for Dan came from both sides of the aisle, and focused on the costs associated with costs and retrofit efforts. The specific issue was whether retrofit efforts cost more than providing no stormwater management. Dan agreed that retrofits cost more than doing nothing, but reiterated his point that during this time of infrastructure rebuilding, the added cost of "doing things right" is often offset by the benefits gained; beyond that, he made the great point that someone will bear the cost of continuing to not address the problem, whether that be downstream communities or the U.S. Department of Transportation itself. 


 

As a self-proclaimed stormwater geek, I couldn’t help but cheer as Dan and Jim made great points, and I felt very proud to be part of an organization and a community that is forward-looking on an issue such as stormwater. Jim told me "it was very gratifying to be asked to share Northern Kentucky's experience and insight into effective storm water management, as well as being a part of a legislative hearing process and observing government in action." Dan added the following about his experience, "I'm grateful for the opportunity to offer the subcommittee a science-based point of view that reflects the state of the practice in stormwater management. Water does not know of political leanings or regulatory jurisdictions, and our lawmakers could benefit from engaging our industry more often to make decisions that are scientifically defensible." 


 

With professionals like these on our side, one can only be optimistic about our chances to move the needle on stormwater in the future and, who knows, maybe we’ll see start to see greener highways and roadways by the time my 4-year-old son is behind the wheel. 

 

Posted by Jonathan Byus at 05/21/2014 10:51:36 AM | 


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SethBrown.jpg 

Posted by:
Seth Brown, Stormwater Program and Policy Manager, Water Environment Federation  

Seth Brown is the Stormwater Program and Policy Director at the Water Environment Federation (WEF). In this capacity, Seth leads WEF's stormwater program by working with WEF members and others in the stormwater community to identify technical needs in the field and work to develop programming and products to meet these needs. He engages in partnerships with outside groups on collaborative efforts to further the stormwater profession and topic. This position also involves tracking upcoming Federal legislative and potential regulation changes relevant to the stormwater and wet weather community as well as providing general policy support on water sector issues.

Seth has a B.S. and an M.S. in civil engineering, is a licensed professional engineer in the state of Maryland and is currently pursuing a PhD in civil engineering at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

 


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