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Villanova Hosts Biennial Stormwater Management Symposium

Villanova Hosts Biennial Stormwater Management Symposium

On October 16-17, the Villanova Urban Stormwater Partnership (VUSP) hosted 270 representatives from academia, industry and public and private sectors for the eighth Pennsylvania Stormwater Management Symposium. Chaired by VUSP Director Dr. Robert G. Traver ’82 MCE, “Stormwater from the Ground Up” was intended “to advance the knowledge and understanding of sustainable stormwater management for those dealing in all aspects of planning, design, implementation and regulatory compliance,” a mission that has remain unchanged since the Symposium was first held in 1998. This year’s conference was preceded by a workshop for 170 municipal officials on the topic of financing stormwater management. The workshop was organized by Temple-Villanova Sustainable Stormwater Initiative (TVSSI).

In his welcome to Symposium participants, Dr. Traver noted the evolution of the field of water resources management: “Our whole profession in stormwater has dramatically changed over the past 15 years of this conference. In the early years, we focused on detention water quality and wetlands, but today we’re talking about evapotranspiration, infiltration and the role of soils and plants.” He adds, “We’ve always been pretty good at looking forward to the next big things.”

Among the highlights of the 2013 Symposium was an update from E. Christopher Abruzzo, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP). Abruzzo identified the state’s stormwater challenges and encouraged those in attendance to look for creative, cost-efficient solutions. He also spoke of the emergence and importance of green technology, acknowledging that not long ago it was “a dirty word if you were in municipal government.” Abruzzo noted that the issue of urban stormwater is the EPA’s number one priority and will be for the foreseeable future.  Expounding on the Secretary’s introduction to current issues in Pennsylvania stormwater management were plenary speakers Lee McDonall, director of PADEP’s Bureau of Point and Non-Point Source Management, and Ken Murin, chief of the Bureau of Waterways Engineering and Wetlands.

The bulk of the Symposium schedule was dedicated to a selection of 15 technical sessions, which offered research findings, case studies and practical know-how. Numerous topics were addressed within the main categories of stormwater control measures (SCM), regional approaches, monitoring and modeling, building partnerships, and innovative site design. SCM sessions, for example, dealt with the importance of soils and vegetation, permeable pavements, water quality and more.

Villanova Civil and Environmental Engineering faculty presented a number of technical sessions:

Professor Andrea Welker, PhD, PE, VUSP, “State of the Practice of Soil Mixes used in Rain Gardens.”

Dr. Welker,  Assistant Professor John Komlos, PhD, VUSP, and Chemical Engineering Professor Vito Punzi, PhD, “Feasibility Study of Water Treatment Plant Residuals to Improve Pollutant Removal in SCMs.”

Dr. Welker and Evgeny Nemirovsky, ’12 MSCE, PE, “Integration of WQ Data with Mainstream GIS.”

Civil Engineering Associate Professor Bridget Wadzuk, PhD, ’00 CE, VUSP, moderated a roundtable discussion on “How Best to Take Credit for Evapotranspiration in Green Roofs,” and VUSP faculty updated participants on Villanova’s ongoing green infrastructure research. The faculty also facilitated a meeting of the Pennsylvania Stormwater Technical Workgroup Panel to discuss Pennsylvania's next Stormwater Control Measures Manual.

Several Villanova Engineering alumni were also among the more than 50 presenters:

Clay Emerson ’08 PhD, PE, CFM, Princeton Hydro, “Stormwater Infiltration Testing at Depth.”

April M Barkasi ’96 CE, ’98 MSWRE, PE, LEED AP, Cedarville Engineering Group, “Urban Soils– One Size Does NOT Fit All.”

David R. Smith ’71 CE, technical director, Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute, “Industry Guidelines for Permeable Interlocking Concrete Pavement.”

Joanne Dahme ’80 CE, Philadelphia Water Department (PWD), “PWD’s systematic watershed-wide approach to Stormwater Management.”

William Heasom ’04 MSCE, PE, MASCE, LEED AP, Down to Earth Design Foundation, “A Proposal for Measuring the Effects of Greening a 10-Acre Commercial Site.”

Andrea Braga ’04 CE, ’05 MSWRE, Geosyntec Consultants, “Making Green Work, and Work Harder.”

James W. Pillsbury ’09 MSCE, PE, Westmoreland Conservation District, “Large Parking Lot Stormwater Retrofit.”

Julia Rosenbloom ’10 MSCE, PE, Michael Baker Jr., Inc., “Gustine Lake Interchange Improvement Project.”

Each of the sessions was recorded and is available at

The next Stormwater Symposium will be held at Villanova in 2015.