For nearly 30 years, the federal guidelines that govern America’s water resource planning have largely remained unchanged. In an attempt to modernize them, the White House Council on Environmental Quality tapped the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to review proposed changes that would significantly revise the current guidelines. Dr. Robert Traver, Professor and Director of the Villanova Center for the Advancement of Sustainability in Engineering (VCASE) and the Villanova Urban Stormwater Partnership (VUSP), served on the NAS review panel, whose report, “A Review of the Proposed Revisions to the Federal Principles and Guidelines Water Resources Planning Document,” was released in November.
“I am honored to have been a part of this timely process and to offer our VCASE and VUSP resources, experiences, and expertise in service to the country’s greater good, both now and for the future,” says Dr. Traver, who previously served on the American Society of Civil Engineers' “External Review Panel” charged with the technical review of the U.S. Corps of Engineers’ investigation of the failure of the levees in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.
The White House Council on Environmental Quality’s proposal calls for new water resource projects to be developed by taking sound science, increased economic responsibility and operational transparency, and consideration for nonstructural approaches into account. It also seeks to apply these principles and guidelines to all federal agencies that undertake these types of projects.
The NAS was asked to provide feedback on the proposed changes, which fall under categories such as (but are not limited to) protecting and restoring the environment without damaging economic well-being, elevating the importance of non-monetary benefits of water resource projects, avoiding misuse of floodplains, and improving transparency around the planning and implementation process.
In addition to service on this panel, Dr. Traver was also a member of the NAS panel that authored “Urban Stormwater Management in the United States.” He also advocated for green infrastructure stormwater management practices at an Environmental Protection Agency “listening session” last year.