On Thursday, March 19, a hearing on “Efforts to Address Urban Stormwater Runoff” topped the agenda of the House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment. One of the expert witnesses—and the only academician—called to testify was Dr. Robert Traver, PE, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Director of the Villanova Urban Stormwater Partnership. Departmental colleague Dr. Bridget Wadzuk ’00 and several students accompanied Dr. Traver to Washington, DC.
Dr. Traver offered his views on the utility of green infrastructure and low-impact-design approaches, which reduce the creation of urban stormwater and use nature to address its detrimental impact. “Green infrastructure is the most protective and cost-effective solution for the community, the property owner, and our waters,” he said.
By way of example, he described two stormwater control measures found in the Stormwater Best Management Practice Demonstration Park on Villanova’s campus: a green roof and a bioinfiltration traffic island.
Dr. Traver also mentioned barriers to implementing these approaches, including the failure to recognize and regulate flow as a pollutant, ordinances that mandate outdated practices, and the inability to accurately predict how control measures will perform in specific storm events.
To remove these and other barriers, Dr. Traver recommended several solutions. First, any systems approach should be tailored to the target source—the watershed—and implemented at the municipal level. Second, the public needs to be educated about the functions and benefits of green infrastructure. Finally, more research that includes lab, field, and modeling studies is needed for these technologies to be better understood.
Dr. Traver testified on behalf of the National Research Council (NRC). For two years, he had served on the NRC’s Committee on Reducing Stormwater Discharge Contributions to Water Pollution. Among the other panelists who testified were representatives from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Natural Resources Defense Council.