Hundreds Participate in Villanova Urban Stormwater Partnership Symposium

VUSP Director Robert Traver
VUSP Director Robert Traver on one of the Villanova University campus stormwater research sites.

On October 16–17, the Villanova Urban Stormwater Partnership (VUSP) hosted more than 300 representatives from academia, industry and public and private sectors for the 11th Pennsylvania Stormwater Management Symposium. Chaired by VUSP Director Dr. Robert G. Traver ’82 MSCE, PE, D.WRE., F. EWRI., F. ASCE, “Building Resilience into Stormwater" shined a spotlight and celebrated 20 years of research at Villanova sponsored by the Nonpoint Source Program. The symposium is 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 remained unchanged since the event was first held in 1998.  

Among the program’s participants were recently appointed Philadelphia Water Commissioner Randy Hayman who spoke on Philadelphia’s Green City Clean Water initiative, and Patrick McDonnell, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, who presented the state’s current directions for stormwater. Addressing shared treatment technology and best practices was Dr. John Gulliver, a University of Minnesota professor who conducts his research at the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory. The technical sessions included the Philadelphia Water Department’s 25-year plan to employ a land-based approach to transform the health of the City’s creeks and rivers. In all, the symposium welcomed more than 50 speakers discussing a range of stormwater topics from resilience and rain gardens to water quality and volume design. The event concluded with three SCM tours including one of Delaware River Watershed Initiative research sites, the Spectrum of GSI in West Philadelphia, a PWD guided tour, and a walking tour of the new rain gardens, planters and water reuse system for the Commons, Villanova’s new residence halls.

The symposium was preceded by a workshop for 100 municipal officials. "Managing Stormwater by Engaging Private Landowners: Success Stories and Strategies" was held in partnership with the Pennsylvania Environmental Council and Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors and was specifically designed for non-engineers, municipal officials and staff. It offered a full day of networking and discussions and featured keynote speaker Lee Murphy of the PADEP.

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 21 years of this conference. In the early years, we focused on detention, but today we’re talking about evapotranspiration, infiltration and the role of soils and plants.” He added, “It’s time to use this knowledge to build resilient stormwater systems”.