Monday, November 30, 2009

Stormwater Management: The Future is Now

By Tyler Richards, Deputy Director of Operations, Gwinnett County Department of Water Resources

Not long ago, when utility managers heard ‘stormwater management,’ they probably thought about drainage and flooding , I know I did. But managing stormwater today involves so much more, especially given its impacts on water quality and local streams. Trends related to climate change, urban sprawl, and fertilizer/pesticide use all affect stormwater management, which will play an increasing complex role in preserving and enhancing the water environment, WEF is focusing resources to meet this growing challenge.

Wastewater managers are now expanding their jurisdictions to manage stormwater. Total maximum daily loads are better defining storm water impacts in watersheds. And stormwater concerns may even impact utility permit compliance. There are huge opportunities to help water and wastewater utility managers more effectively address storm water issues, including emerging EPA initiatives on revising storm water regulations.

Past President Rebecca West and President Paul Freedman asked me to chair a new Stormwater Task Force to focus WEF resources and activities related to stormwater. I’m enthusiastic about our challenge to look at stormwater from all aspects and come up with a comprehensive plan for stormwater programming at WEF. Numerous related efforts like technical sessions, papers, workshops, and the Federation’s upcoming comments to EPA continue to attract interest and support here at WEF. We are reviewing and prioritizing all of them with an eye toward increased effectiveness while solidifying and expanding the stormwater knowledge base for water quality professionals.

EPA is considering regulatory changes that would significantly expand the reach of the stormwater permit program, and no doubt this will impact municipal managers. Those changes may also help to level the playing field to provide more equitable regulation of point and nonpoint sources of impairment. Our members need to be involved in the regulatory process, and WEF member expertise in asset and utility management will also be essential in developing and delivering programs that stormwater managers will need. We’d appreciate your feedback, so please take a moment to post a comment on stormwater needs from your perspective.

1 comment:

  1. So glad to see WEF raising the profile of stormwater as part of the full cycle of water resource management. Helping our impacted communities see the connection between all water resources is essential to building a strong advocacy base for our industry's initiatives. Education of the community is critical to ensuring successful stormwater efforts, and there are proven examples of the willingness of residents and businesses to embrace the role they play in contributing to stormwater challenges. These types of partnerships bolster the potential for real change, and can make life easier for those responsible for securing permits, protecting water quality, and demonstrating fiscal responsibility. I'm looking forward to WEF's continued engagement on this important topic!