Chicago — On Sept. 28, the Water Environment Federation (WEF) released a comprehensive report detailing the challenges, opportunities, and pathways to improving the nation’s stormwater systems. The release of “Rainfall to results: The future of stormwater” at WEFTEC 2015 in Chicago coincided with the official launch of the WEF Stormwater Institute, a new center of excellence and innovation to address stormwater issues.
The growing issue of stormwater pollution coupled with regulatory pressure is driving the need for innovative approaches, training, technology solutions, and progressive financing. There is a clear need for national leadership and collaboration to help forge the path to more sustainable stormwater management. The report draws from the insights of top stormwater experts from across the United States who examined the challenges, opportunities, and best practices that will lead to a more resilient and effective stormwater sector.
“Rainfall to results details a clear vision for where we need to be on stormwater issues, but more importantly, it also gives us a map for getting there,” said WEF president Ed McCormick. “From encouraging work at the watershed level to improving governance and the regulatory environment, the report gives practitioners the tools they need to sustainably manage stormwater.”
According to the report, collaborative action across all disciplines within the stormwater sector and broader community engagement will be required to achieve the envisioned future in which all stormwater is managed through an optimized mix of affordable and sustainable green, gray, and natural infrastructure. Six critical objectives were identified to achieve this goal:
- Work at the watershed scale – all communities will have integrated, watershed-scale assessments of water resources needs and challenges;
- Transform stormwater governance – communities will catalyze further formation of stormwater utilities and regulations to stimulate stormwater control innovation and performance improvement by focusing on program outcomes;
- Support innovation and best practices – a broad suite of verified stormwater controls and best practices will support confident planning and maintenance;
- Manage assets and resources – stormwater systems will be maintained through robust asset management programs and supported by innovative information technology;
- Close the funding gap – communities will align stormwater management efforts with broader community goals to garner funding options and have access to innovative financing opportunities;
- Engage the community – communities will understand and value the contribution stormwater management makes to flood risk reduction, clean and safe water, climate resiliency, and other benefits.
“Improving stormwater management will be a key aspect of building resilience in the face of uncertain climate patterns and extreme weather events,” said Mike Beezhold, senior planner at CDM and chair of WEF’s Stormwater Committee. “We need to integrate stormwater into broader regional and community planning and ensure we are managing stormwater in a sustainable way.”
View the report at http://www.wefnet.org/stateofstormwater.