According to Robert Traver, Ph.D., director of Villanova’s Urban Stormwater Partnership and Center for the Advancement of Sustainability in Engineering, the time is right for the Environmental Protection Agency to adopt effective, enforceable regulations that promote sustainable stormwater control measures (SCMs) and respect the complexity of these management systems.
“Regulatory standards and their performance should be based on science,” says Traver, who has served on the National Research Council Committee on Reducing Stormwater Discharge Contributions to Water Pollution.
Traver participated in the EPA’s recent “listening session” about stormwater issues in Washington, D.C., which will help the agency strengthen regulations aimed at reducing stormwater discharges that impact water quality.
Drawing on 30 years of experience with stormwater management issues, Traver advocated four key principles for consideration:
- A systems approach for sustainable management: Regulations should take into account land use and its stressors; systems design, operations, and replacement; and the role surface runoff might play as a pollutant.
- Addressing stormwater hydrology as a complex system: Because natural systems, rainfall volumes, geography, and inhabitants vary by season, location, and time period, a simple one-size-fits-all mitigation solution will not work. In some cases, a combination of tailored engineered solutions may be more effective.
- Promoting green infrastructure SCMs: “From an engineering perspective, green infrastructure SCMs are the most cost effective and sustainable approach to mitigating the effects of urban stormwater runoff,” says Traver. However, he adds, more research will help expand understanding of these solutions, increase their effectiveness, and reduce costs.
- Evaluating early and often: It will be important to begin evaluating the success of any new regulations immediately so that if necessary, timely adjustments can be made.
The EPA has committed to finalizing new national stormwater regulations by November 2012.