October 8, 2015

The Water Environment Federation (WEF) announced the official launch of the new Stormwater Institute and presented its Inaugural National Municipal Stormwater Awards on September 28 at WEF’s 3rd Stormwater Congress during WEF’s 88th Annual WEFTEC 2015 conference held in Chicago, Illinois. The WEF Stormwater Institute will be the center for excellence and innovation focused on developing best-in-class solutions to stormwater runoff and wet weather issues.

The institute hopes to draw from the broad diversity, expertise, and engagement of the more than 36,000 WEF members- which is the largest clean water-solutions membership in the world. The institute is identifying cross-cutting issues, convening experts to tackle those issues, providing insights and leadership to policymakers, and helping chart a new course toward a healthier and more sustainable stormwater system in the U.S. and globally. 

The formation of the new Stormwater Institute resulted from the growing issue of stormwater pollution coupled with regulatory pressure has created a need for national leadership that the WEF Stormwater Institute aims to provide. The institute will have a strong initial focus on the development of technical tools, professional training, and networking opportunities for stormwater practitioners worldwide. Many existing stormwater initiatives within WEF will be brought under the umbrella of the institute, and new programs in key areas such as green infrastructure training will be developed.

The first action of the WEF Stormwater Institute was the release of the new report, Rainfall to results: The future of stormwater, a comprehensive report detailing the challenges, opportunities, and pathways to achieving sustainable stormwater management during the Stormwater Congress in Chicago. The 2015 WEFTEC drew a record of more than 25,000 total attendees and marked the third year for the Stormwater Congress, a spotlight event for stormwater professionals.

The WEF 3rd Stormwater Congress included an expanded stormwater technical program with four workshops, a facility tour hosted by the Calumet Stormwater Collaborative, and more than 30 sessions. The Congress also included a sold-out luncheon featuring Antonio Riley, regional administrator for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Stormwater Congress was supported in cooperation with the Illinois Association for Floodplain & Stormwater Management (IAFSM), International Erosion Control Association (IECA) and the Metropolitan Planning Council and sponsored by ARCADIS, Christopher B. Burke Engineering Ltd., and Michael Baker International.

The Congress planning committee members included AAWRE Diplomates Dan Medina, Ph.D., P.E., D.WRE, M.ASCE, Dan Christian, P.E., D.WRE, M.ASCE, Andrew Reese, P.E., D.WRE, M.ASCE, Dwayne Myers, P.E., D.WRE, M.ASCE, Jim Lenhart, P.E., D.WRE, M.ASCE, Jim Scholl, P.E., D.WRE and EWRI committee members Scott Struck, P.E., M.ASCE and Carol Hufnagel, P.E., M.ASCE.

At the Congress, WEF also announced the launch of its Inaugural National Municipal Stormwater and Green Infrastructure Awards. The program, housed within the WEF Stormwater Institute, recognizes high-performing, regulated Phase I and Phase II Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) communities that meet and exceed regulatory requirements in innovative ways that are effective and cost efficient.

The winners were recognized at the Stormwater Congress. All participants received a certificate in gold, silver, or bronze levels with three winners from each category selected for program management, innovation, and overall winner with the highest score. Overall Highest Scores were awarded to Charlotte Stormwater Services, Charlotte, N.C. in Phase I and City of Fairbanks, Alaska in Phase II. Recipients for Innovation were awarded to City of Santa Monica, Calif. and City of Tacoma, Wash in Phase I and City of Alexandria, Va in Phase II. Awards in program management went to Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection, MD in Phase I and Lafayette Consolidated Government, Lafayette, LA in Phase II.

Applications were reviewed and winners selected by a diverse steering committee that included members and volunteers from WEF’s stormwater and watershed national committees, as well as representatives from EWRI, Association of Clean Water Administrators, American Rivers, the American Society of Landscape Architects, the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, the National Association of Flood and Stormwater Management Agencies, and the Water Environment Research Foundation.

WEF plans to expand its Stormwater Congress at the 2016 WEFTEC in New Orleans and hopes to generate greater interest in its new National Stormwater Municipal Awards program.

>To contact the WEF Stormwater Committee Chair, Heather Harris 
>To read the 2015 Stormwater Congress Summary