CANCELED: 2020 National Water Policy Fly-In to focus on stormwater management issues


On April 27 and 28, 2020, water professionals and clean-water advocates from around the U.S. will convene in Washington, D.C., to make their voices heard during the annual Water Policy Fly-In. The event, organized by the Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.), the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (Washington, D.C.), the Water Research Foundation (Denver, Colo.) and the WateReuse Association (Alexandria, Va.), is the anchor event for Water Week and offers the chance to engage federal legislators and regulators on critical water-sector issues.

Issues related to stormwater management will take center stage during Water Week 2020.

“WEF and its partner organizations have developed a short, simple list of actions that Congress and the executive branch can take in 2020 to support success in the stormwater sector,” said Steve Dye, WEF legislative director. “While securing adequate funding for stormwater programs and infrastructure remains a priority, stormwater professionals have also indicated a need for more robust technical assistance and clearer, more comprehensive regulations. We are excited to take these recommendations directly to legislators during the Fly-In.”

Reliable funding for stormwater infrastructure

Water professionals from around the U.S. will convene in Washington, D.C., April 27-28, to attend the 2020 National Water Policy Fly-In. The Fly-In offers the chance to engage federal legislators and regulators on critical water-sector issues. Image courtesy of skeeze/Pixabay

WEF’s inaugural MS4 Needs Assessment Survey, conducted in 2018, revealed lack of funding for stormwater programming and the deteriorating quality of U.S. stormwater infrastructure as the two most common challenges facing stormwater professionals.

During the Fly-In, attendees will advocate for new regional or federal resources to assist communities with securing funding for stormwater infrastructure construction or renewal.

The U.S. Congress created and funded the first-ever Stormwater Infrastructure Financing Task Force, which began work in 2019, with the goal of developing new templates to help guide financing and project delivery for municipal stormwater infrastructure. For 2020, WEF and its partners are calling on legislators to review and consider the task force’s recommendations as well as renew the task force with an additional year of funding. The organizations are also asking for the expansion of existing federal funding for programs such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act.

Standardized stormwater benchmarking

Communities greatly differ in their approaches to stormwater management. Because the design of stormwater management systems varies widely by climate, community size, topography, and other factors, benchmarking the performance of these systems to identify the most cost-effective options remains a challenge.

Fly-In attendees will request funding for EPA to further develop a national performance verification program for stormwater control measures. The verification program would involve undertaking comparative studies to determine which system designs and treatment approaches achieve the most efficient stormwater management using standardized metrics.

WEF has already been working alongside EPA, the American Society of Civil Engineers (Reston, Va.), the Interstate Technology and Regulatory Council (Washington, D.C.), and other partners to lay the groundwork for a stormwater technology verification program. However, the program requires more funding for a successful launch and rollout to stormwater managers across the country.

Consistent Atlas 14 updates

Cities and engineers around the U.S. use data from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Atlas 14 study to help design stormwater interventions according to expectations of extreme storms. First published in 2004, NOAA has released several new editions of the study on a regional basis. The agency plans to release an Atlas 14 edition for the Pacific Northwest states, the only region in the U.S. currently unserved by Atlas 14 data. Image courtesy of U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Successful stormwater management projects and studies rely on accurate, applicable, and authoritative data on expected rainfall depths, durations, and frequencies. Because rainfall patterns are changing rapidly in many regions, this data must undergo periodic revisions to ensure they remain useful to stormwater professionals.

Through a program called Atlas 14, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) performs comprehensive precipitation studies on a region-by-region basis. However, because these studies are generally funded on-demand by the states and agencies that use them rather than directly by taxpayers, some regions are using data several decades out of date while other regions do not have access to Atlas 14 data at all.

During the Fly-In, water professionals will ask federal budgeters to provide adequate funding for NOAA to undertake a nationwide Atlas 14 update each decade, ensuring that the underlying data behind new programs and infrastructure remain useful.

Best practices for source control

Many common pollutants — including several pesticides, nutrients, heavy metals — are technically infeasible to remove from stormwater after they are swept up into runoff. For that reason, controlling these contaminants at their source is the preferred approach to reduce runoff pollution and ensure local waterways remain healthy. Many cities and states are developing new approaches to contaminant source control, however, they have reported needs for greater clarity from regulators as far as best practices for source-based contaminant tracking, testing, and mitigation.

Advocates should call on the U.S. Congress to direct EPA, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the U.S. Geological Survey to examine potential source-control options allowed by the Clean Water Act and Toxic Substances Control Act and provide guidance to the stormwater community on a preferred regulatory pathway.

Registration for the 2020 Water Policy Fly-In is now open through April 6, 2020. Visit the Water Week website for more details, or contact with questions or concerns.



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One Response to “CANCELED: 2020 National Water Policy Fly-In to focus on stormwater management issues”

  1. Laurie Reynolds
    March 5, 2020 at 1:51 pm #

    From UK.
    Interested in comparison of US experience compared to UK.

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