Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) members in the stormwater sector are at the forefront of innovation in low-impact development and urban resilience. Next week — May 8 to 10 — WEF will provide an opportunity for these members to deepen their skillsets, share successes and lessons learned, and form relationships with other experts at its inaugural Stormwater and Green Infrastructure Symposium (SGIS).
SGIS will take place in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., at the Greater Fort Lauderdale-Broward County Convention Center. The symposium will feature workshops and technical sessions focused on the issues that matter to both stormwater academics and field practitioners. Topics include
- green infrastructure design, operations, maintenance, and management;
- the relationship between green and gray infrastructure;
- improving flood resilience;
- workforce development;
- funding and financing; and
- the changing landscape of research and regulations.
Below are previews of some of SWGI’s most highly anticipated events.
Working on workforce development
Those arriving early to Fort Lauderdale can get a head start on with a half-day seminar and three workshops (extra fees apply). Get full details in the SGIS 2019 Onsite Program.
For example, Workshop C: The Water Quality Workforce offers audience members a chance to hear from a broad-minded group of speakers about a topic crucial to the future of stormwater management. The workshop, which begins at 1:30 p.m. on Wed. May 8, features two panel discussions on the stormwater sector’s workforce development challenges and how innovative programs are meeting those challenges. Panel moderators also will solicit experiences from the audience about workforce challenges and solutions, making for an interactive learning experience.
Panelists include representatives from both the public and private sector. They include
- Joe Kane, senior research associate for the Brookings Institution’s (Washington, D.C.) Metropolitan Policy Program, which studies infrastructure’s role in the economy and how it affects workforce issues;
- Trinh Nguyen, director of the Boston (Mass.) Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development, which runs several local programs connecting people to skills-based apprenticeships and educational opportunities;
- Colleen Murphy-Dunning, director of the Urban Resources Institute at Yale University (New Haven, Conn.), which runs a program that employs ex-convicts in the urban forestry and environmental stewardship fields; and
- Andrada Butler, who heads various workforce development programs for the Atlanta (Ga.) Department of Watershed Management.
Registration for the workshop is still open. Interested guests can register to attend before arriving or on-site.
Opening General Session
The symposium officially kicks off on Thurs., May 9 at 8:30 a.m. with an Opening General Session. 2019 SGIS co-chairs Leigh Padgitt from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and Arcadis’ (Philadelphia, Pa.) Mike Devuono, 2018-2019 WEF Trustee Joan Hawley, and Kristiana Dragash, president of the Florida Water Environment Association will welcome attendees.
Then, local and national thought leaders will acquaint the audience with the current state of stormwater management and provide an outlook for the future of the sector.
- Hear from Jeaneanne Gettle, director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 4 Water Protection Division, for an update on federal stormwater policy and regulation.
- WEF Past President Sandra K. Ralston will brief attendees on the latest from the WEF Stormwater Institute.
- Nancy Gassman, assistant public works director for Fort Lauderdale, will describe flood management challenges in the SGIS host city and how the municipality is mobilizing green infrastructure to help meet those challenges.
All roads lead to funding
Much of the SGIS program deals with ways to improve green infrastructure service delivery, bolster local resilience against flooding, and ensure adequate talent exists to maintain and manage new infrastructure. But even the most innovative stormwater projects require funding, and green infrastructure proponents have often had to think outside-the-box to attract capital from non-traditional sources.
Two technical sessions — Session 2: Market-Based Delivery, Funding, and Finance Options and Session 5: Innovative Funding Ideas for Stormwater Infrastructure — offer a wealth of information on this topic.
“Financing is always a hurdle to piloting new programs, and these two sessions present options and ideas for symposium participants to support their own projects,” said Laura Childs, who manages training and education programs for WEF.
Session 2, held on Thurs., May 9, from 10:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., deals with ways stormwater agencies have successfully attracted funding from private or non-governmental investors to support green infrastructure projects. Speakers from Corvias (East Greenwich, R.I.), an infrastructure contractor primarily serving military bases and college campuses, will discuss how winning private investment for green infrastructure projects also can help attract public capital. Representatives from the New York City Department of Environmental Protection and the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority (ALCOSAN; Pittsburgh) will share their experiences using capital from private investors and other market-based funding sources to meet municipal stormwater treatment goals.
Session 5, also on Thursday from 1:30 p.m. to 5:15 p.m., will offer additional perspectives on how green infrastructure projects can attract funding from sources for which gray infrastructure projects may not quality. For example, Eric Letsinger of Quantified Ventures (Washington, D.C.) will discuss environmental impact bonds, which are currently funding expansive green infrastructure projects in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and Atlanta. Sonia Brubaker, director of the EPA Water Infrastructure and Resiliency Finance Center, also will provide information about federal funding programs to support stormwater infrastructure.
Be sure to download the WEF Events Connect mobile app on Google Play or the Apple App Store to access the program on-the-go, provide feedback on individual presentations, sessions, and workshops, and even build a personalized conference schedule.