On Nov. 16, the Water Environment Federation (WEF) announced that Chris French has joined the organization as its new director of stormwater programs. French will use his more than fifteen years of water sector experience to expand this core competency area for WEF. He will guide the efforts of the WEF Stormwater Institute, a recently launched center of excellence that provides national leadership for sustainable stormwater management.
“WEF is very fortunate to find someone of Chris’s caliber to continue growing our stormwater programs and help establish the WEF Stormwater Institute as a leading facilitator of knowledge exchange and innovation in this increasingly important part of the water sector,” said WEF Executive Director Eileen O’Neill. “His appointment is a sign of our continued commitment to raising the profile of stormwater issues and supporting those responsible for effectively and sustainably managing it here in North America and beyond.”
Having worked on stormwater and watershed management issues for nearly two decades, French brings an extensive background from both the public and private sectors. In addition to his most recent position as the regional regulatory manager for Contech Engineered Solutions, he has previously held positions with government agencies such as the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and non-governmental agencies such as the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay. Additionally, French served on committees and advisory boards of several national and community-based organizations, including his former position as the government affairs and regulatory committee chair for the Stormwater Equipment and Manufacturer’s Association.
“As a volunteer and member, I have always admired and respected the expertise and impactful contributions that WEF makes to the water sector,” French said. “I have seen first-hand the organization’s unique ability to pull together thought leaders and mobilize conversations about the value of water and the need for broad-based stormwater solutions. I’m honored to have this new opportunity and look forward helping WEF develop and guide its national and international stormwater initiatives.”
French will increase the depth of WEF’s stormwater focus through member, stakeholder, and practitioner engagement to help identify technical and policy needs as well as develop commensurate programming and products. He will continue WEF Stormwater Institute efforts by completing findings that he started as a member of the Stormwater Testing and Evaluation for Products and Practices (STEPP) Advisory Committee.
The findings are being used for a new report that will outline next steps for a national initiative that is being funded through a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Infrastructure Grant and administered by the Water Environment Research Foundation. The WEF-driven project seeks to develop a framework for the formation of a national testing and evaluation program in the stormwater sector. Largely focused on convening stormwater practitioners and thought leaders to find a solution to a pressing stormwater issue, STEPP is in direct alignment with the Institute’s intent to serve as a conduit for information exchange between the stormwater and regulatory communities.