Dr. Robert Traver Testifies at City Council Hearing in Philadelphia

Dr. Robert Traver, PE, WRE

Recognizing his expertise on issues related to stormwater management, national and state entities frequently have tapped Dr. Robert Traver, PE, WRE, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, to advise, assess, and make recommendations. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the American Society of Civil Engineers, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. House of Representatives are among the august bodies that have sought Dr. Traver’s input. Now a municipal organization has followed their lead. On September 1, the Philadelphia City Council called upon Dr. Traver to testify at a public hearing.

The purpose of the hearing, which was held jointly by the Committee on the Environment and the Committee on Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs, was to investigate the feasibility of installing sustainable irrigation systems beneath Philadelphia’s more than 275 recreation fields to improve their condition, increase their lifespan, and reduce maintenance costs. Besides reducing the need to use potable water to irrigate fields, this technology could significantly reduce stormwater runoff—a benefit of no small consequence. Because Philadelphia has a combined sewer system that handles both stormwater and wastewater, any reduction of stormwater runoff reduces the sewer overflows that discharge into streams and rivers.

The only academician to testify, Dr. Traver provided an overview of stormwater best management practices on Villanova’s campus, discussed which factors need to be considered in evaluating irrigation systems, and shared his experiences of what works and what does not. Councilman James Kenney, who chaired the hearing, thanked Dr. Traver and invited him to be available for future consultation.

Dr. Traver is the director of the Villanova Urban Stormwater Partnership (VUSP), whose mission is to advance the field of sustainable stormwater management and to foster the development of public and private partnerships through research on best management practices, directed studies, technology transfer, and education. On October 14-15, the VUSP is hosting the 2009 Pennsylvania Stormwater Management Symposium at Villanova.