Canadian Consulting Engineer

More help needed for stormwater systems, says new group

March 19, 2009
By Canadian Consulting Engineer

Seeing the need for more education and standards related to stormwater systems, a group of manufacturers have forme...

Seeing the need for more education and standards related to stormwater systems, a group of manufacturers have formed a new association in the U.S. The Storm Water Equipment Manufacturer’s Association (SWEMA) says they are “hitting the ground running with initiatives for 2009.”

The association is interested in helping develop knowledge and guidance around both manufactured stormwater systems and natural systems such as swales. Though the initiative comes out of the U.S., Canadian water resources engineers may find the program helpful.

Below are extracts from a SWEMA press release:

“Here’s the issue: Cities and towns around the country are working to develop definitive stormwater regulations, yet they have few resources to turn to for questions or guidance. Often, municipalities find they are working in a vacuum, striving to find the best solution to control and treat stormwater in their community. While each area might have unique characteristics such as rainfall and snow volumes, topography and population density, they all face similar challenges:

  • § What are the best management practices for our environment?
  • § How to validate that the stormwater treatment system will work as planned?
  • § What are the appropriate methods to ensure the system continues to operate as intended?
  • § What maintenance issues should be considered when making an investment in stormwater treatment?

The members of SWEMA are coming together to advocate for effective and sustainable practices that improve water quality and help the overall environment. We will reach out to stakeholders about ways to validate performance of stormwater treatment systems, whether they be natural systems like swales or raingardens or manufactured devices such as separators or filters. We’ll discuss issues such as maintenance, which is often underappreciated in the stormwater treatment process; the role of lab-based testing and need for pilot projects for emerging technologies; and the need for consistent standards to ensure appropriate sizing of all stormwater practices. SWEMA committee members plan to reach out to all members of the stormwater community, from regulatory agencies to engineers, acting as a sounding board for new ideas and treatment concepts.

To that end, SWEMA’s first goal is education. In recent years, most of SWEMA’s members have been actively involved with the regulatory community.  When one state set out to rewrite its stormwater regulations and identify testing requirements, several stormwater treatment manufacturers came forward to offer input on draft regulations and share insights that the state regulators might not have considered. A growing list of regulatory agencies have asked manufacturers to comment on proposed regulatory changes. Through these actions we came to the realization that there was considerable commonality in viewpoints that could benefit the community at large.

This is particularly important when it comes to validating the performance of systems. Evaluating stormwater treatment systems generally starts in the lab, but then transitions over to the field. The industry needs consistent standard guidelines for how systems should be evaluated, so communities have confidence that once systems are installed in the field they will work as intended. This might seem simple, but there are many issues that need to be taken into consideration in determining what verification practices to employ. How many devices need to be monitored? What role does size play in predicting system performance? How does a system perform when it is new versus after months of use? All of these have an impact.

The stormwater industry is as competitive as any.  Manufacturers all have their own R&D departments and their own sales forces.  Day in and day out, we’re chasing the same opportunities. But at some point in time, you need to take a step back and look at what’s best for your industry. The manufacturers that serve the industry need a strong voice that reflects our collective experience and points of view.  Regulators, design professionals, developers and other stakeholders could use our help to understand how products work and what products work best for specific needs.

The Storm Water Equipment Manufacturers Association provides that voice.  We’re here to help, and we intend to be heard.”

Written by Craig Beatty, President, Kri Star Enterprises; John Moll, president, CrystalStream Technologyies; and David Mongeau, general manager, Hydro International.



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