Technical Resources

This Week in Washington


July 7, 2011                                                     Vol. 1, No. 4 

The Stormwater Report is a monthly e-newsletter that highlights advanced practices, cutting-edge research, policy updates, and current events pertaining to stormwater.  Look for The Stormwater Report on the first Thursday of ever month.


Underground Chamber Saves Space, Stores Stormwater

Underground storage chambers can provide onsite stormwater detention and are useful when development space is limited. During the recent redevelopment of an outlet mall in Bluffton, S.C., project engineers needed a solution that would save space and replace detention ponds constructed 20 to 30 years ago.

The eight-ha site now contains the first LEED®-certified retail location in South Carolina. Tanger Factory Outlet Centers Inc. is a 16,444-m2 facility with about 1000 parking spaces. According to Willy Powell, a P.E. at Ward Edwards Inc., the engineering firm that designed the stormwater system, an aboveground system would have required 10% to 15% — that’s 0.8 to 1.2 ha — of the available land. However, the engineers chose instead to use the Recharger® 150 HD, an underground chamber system with a storage volume of 4,785 m­3. The system, manufactured by CULTEC (Brookfield, Conn.), is designed to handle the flow from a 25-year storm.

“The new stormwater system had to accommodate a large volume of runoff because we are located in a hurricane-prone county,” said Carl Close, project manager with Tanger Outlet Centers.

Bluffton also has a high groundwater table that is only 1.2 to 1.5 m below ground, so the system could not be very deep. At 84 cm wide × 47 cm tall, the “system gave us the needed storage capacity and, at the same time, fit in the tight space restricted by the high water table,” Close said.

The chambers were installed in eight beds under the parking area, which features a 2:1 ratio of impervious to pervious surfaces. Stormwater enters the system through a series of inlets, which are equipped with trash guards, through box structures that route runoff into the underground chambers. Two bioretention swales also drain runoff into the chambers.

After collection, runoff travels through an internal manifold and throughout the bed of stormwater chambers. Finally, it exits the system into a wetland located west of the site. Onsite infiltration was not possible due to high groundwater so the open-bottom chamber system functions as a detention solution. 

According to Powell, the ease of system installation, was a key factor for the project team. For example, a conventional manifold consists of a pipe and fitting configuration. However, CULTEC provides an in-line side portal manifold, eliminating the need for an external pipe header.

The stormwater system offered LEED® points for reducing suspended solids and water pollution through runoff infiltration (LEED® credits: 6.1 and 6.2 for Stormwater Design: Quantity Control).

Undergroun Stormwater System
Installation of an underground stormwater detention system during a redevelopment project in Bluffton, S.C. (image courtesy of CULTEC, Inc.)


WEF Convenes Future of Stormwater Meeting
On June 21–22, stormwater experts from an array of professional backgrounds and regions convened at the Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) headquarters for a brainstorming session on the future of stormwater. The impetus behind the meeting was to identify and discuss big-picture stormwater issues, sector needs, and ways WEF can most effectively educate, advocate, and collaborate in the realm of stormwater. Participants agreed that WEF should be integral in developing a comprehensive stormwater vision by determining consistent goals and objectives for stormwater management and elevating the sector and associated professionals.

Representatives from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also attended and sought feedback on the agency’s stormwater rulemaking process, which is currently underway. Key elements of the rule include expanding the universe of regulated MS4s, developing performance-based standards, requiring a retrofit plan for specific MS4s, and potentially creating a separate transportation program.




WEF Events 

Weathering the Storm: Is This the Right Time for You To Form a Stormwater Utility?
Hyatt Regency McCormick Place, Chicago
Aug. 2
To cover regulations, public relations, financing, planning, and management of stormwater utilities

Los Angeles Convention Center
Oct. 15–19
Check here for stormwater-specific programming


Member Association Events 

Georgia Association of Water Professionals
Annual Conference & Expo
Savannah International Trade & Convention Center
Savannah, Ga.
July 10–13
Stormwater (Session 28) on July 13, 8:30–10 a.m.

Kentucky–Tennessee Water Environment Association
2011 Kentucky–Tennessee Water Professionals Conference
Covington, Ky.
July 24–27
See sessions on collection systems, flooding, watershed issues, and more

Texas Water Environment Association
CMOM Capacity, Management, Operation & Maintenance — Proactive Approach
Austin, Texas
Aug. 11–12

New York Water Environment Association
2011 Watershed Science and Technical Conference
Hotel Thayer
West Point, N.Y.
Sept. 15–16


Other Events 

Water Environment Research Foundation
How Well Do BMPs Work?
July 12
2–3 p.m.

Southern Regional Water Program
WQ Nutrient Standards: coming to a watershed near you?
Georgia Center
Athens, Ga.
Sept. 15

WEF Stormwater Utility Seminar To Take Place Aug. 2
Weathering the Storm: Is This the Right Time for You to Form a Stormwater Utility? is a one-day seminar where participants will interact with experts discussing the varied components of stormwater utility development. “Now more than ever, local governments are looking for new funding sources to meet the challenges surrounding enhanced stormwater regulations and associated requirements,” said Rick Giardina, seminar moderator and National Director of Financial Services for Red Oak Consulting. “Faced with these challenges, municipalities are considering stormwater utility creation as a tool to secure reliable and stable funding and as a way to address environmental concerns.”

At the seminar, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will provide a regulatory overview while other experts present legislative updates and legal issues. Other topics of discussion include fee development, public outreach, and asset management.  A variety of case studies from local government organizations that have approached stormwater utility development with varying results will highlight the complexities of this topic.

According to Giardina, this event will be appropriate for “those looking to network and gain information to overcome challenges surrounding stormwater utility formation.” Those who might be interested include local government officials, public works and utility directors, and industry consultants, he said.

WEF Stormwater Webcasts Now Available
The Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) webcast Meeting the New Public Education Requirements of the Stormwater (MS4) Permit is now available on WEF’s YouTube Channel in nine 10-minute segments. The series, consisting of content from a WEF webcast held May 4, presents information designed to help small to mid‐size municipalities meet the newly required public education and outreach components of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) MS4 Stormwater permit.

Another WEF webcast — Green Infrastructure: Economic, Social, Technical, and Policy Overview From the Regulatory, Academic, and Consulting Viewpoint — held June 29, is now available for purchase online.

EPA Extends Comment Periods
The public now has until July 11 to comment on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) draft Construction General Permit (CGP). The CGP regulates stormwater discharges from construction sites greater than 0.4 ha (1 ac) and small plots that are part of a larger planned development. The permit applies in states, territories, and tribal lands where EPA is the permitting authority.

EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have published a 30-day extension for the public comment period on the draft guidance on Identifying Waters Protected by the Clean Water Act. The Water Environment Federation (Alexandria, Va.) will submit comments, which are now due July 31.

EPA Hosts SSO Workshop
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will host a workshop on sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) July 14–15 in Washington, D.C. The workshop will focus on if and how the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) can address SSOs in a nationally consistent manner. The workshop will cover NPDES permitting of SSO notification and documentation; capacity, management, and operations; and the possible allowance of SSOs in certain circumstances. During the workshop, the wastewater community, NPDES permitting authorities, and environmental interests will have the opportunity to influence rulemaking slated to appear later this year. The Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) will be represented by Government Affairs Committee Chair Bob Matthews and Co-chair Dan Ott. Check here for more information.

St. Louis Sewer District To Spend $4.7 Billion To Eliminate CSOs and SSOs
Under a consent decree resulting from a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lawsuit, the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District will be expected to eliminate combined and sanitary sewer overflows from its 150-year-old collection system by 2033. The project costs are expected to total $4.7 billion, split between the city’s combined and sanitary sewers. A portion of these costs would go toward green infrastructure development. See the June 10 issue of This Week in Washington for more information.

Philadelphia Aims to Greenest U.S. City
The Philadelphia Water Department has signed Green Cities, Clean Water, an agreement to expand the city's green infrastructure significantly during the next 25 years. The main goal is to reduce combined sewer overflows (CSOs), but the city has quantified other benefits such as park visits, ecosystem services, green jobs, and increased quality of life. The project will transform one-third of impervious areas served by Philadelphia's combined sewer system, and projections estimate that green infrastructure will prevent the release of 80% of CSOs. Also, check out the Green Cities, Clean Water video.

A Flurry of Activities Follows Numeric Nutrient Limits
The Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, part of the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee, met June 24 to discuss the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) numeric nutrient criteria. The panel consisted of state environmental authorities and others. According to the T&I Committee, most states currently use narrative standards, which the committee says give permittees more flexibility to achieve meaningful nutrient reductions than one-size-fits-all numeric standards. Click here to view a video of the hearing and here for briefing testimonies.

In May, Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), chairman of the T&I Committee, introduced The Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act (H.R. 2018). This legislation would amend the Clean Water Act to preserve the authority of each state to make determinations relating to the state’s water quality standards. If passed and signed into law, this legislation would have implications on issues such as Florida's nutrient criteria and mountaintop mining. However, according to EPA this bill could limit the agency’s role in the permitting process, causing costly delays or increased disapprovals of state water quality standards as well as an increase in litigation by environmental groups. Check here to see EPA’s response to this bill.

Florida — required by the EPA to adopt numeric standards after litigation in early 2009 — is one of the few states currently using numeric standards. However, due to pushback from the Florida state government, the wastewater industry, and others, EPA said it would repeal Florida numeric nutrient limits if the state develops agency-approved standards. The decision is in response to Florida's April petition, and was expressed in a letter from EPA to Florida's Department of Environmental Protection.

Lawsuit Tests EPA's Use of Flow as a Surrogate for Water Quality

Local government and academic groups in Missouri recently filed a lawsuit with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) challenging a total maximum daily load (TMDL) promulgated for Hinkson Creek. Plaintiffs say that the TMDL requires flow reductions of 39.6% at peak conditions but does not identify pollutants of concern. According to plaintiffs, the general flow surrogate requires them to reduce stormwater from all sources, instead of targeting sources that may contain pollutants of concern. In addition, they state that reducing stormwater flow could lower water levels in the creek, concentrating pollutants and actually worsening water quality. The lawsuit will require EPA to provide an explicit connection between stormwater volume and pollutant reduction.

This lawsuit is timely given concerns about flow surrogates raised by industry groups and others during public comment on EPA's Nov. 12 stormwater memo, which laid out numeric flow limits for stormwater permit holders. Read the Water Environment Federation’s (Alexandria, Va.) comments on the memo here.

EPA Wrestles With Nutrient Plan for Mississippi River
The threat of legal action by environmental groups is pushing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to adopt strict nutrient criteria for the Mississippi River with the goal of resolving Gulf of Mexico hypoxia. The National Academy of Sciences has advised that EPA adopt numeric nutrient criteria, while many lawmakers are ready to fight more stringent requirements. While EPA administrator Lisa Jackson has said that the agency will not develop a basin-wide total maximum daily load for the Mississippi River, EPA is using a model to assess nutrient loading and dissolved oxygen issues. Scientific advisors to the agency are suggesting that EPA create interim standards for a maximum load at the river's mouth.

Senate Committee Passes Bill To Limit EPA Oversight of Pesticide Applications
On June 21, the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry approved the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2011 (H.R. 872). The goal of the bill is to prevent the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from requiring a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for pesticide applications that follow proper labeling and intended use requirements. The bill is in response to a 2009 court order that requires those applying pesticides into, over, or near waterbodies to obtain NPDES permits. The final general permit for pesticide applications should be ready by July 30, and will apply beginning on Oct. 31. H.R. 872 would prevent the general permit implementation by amending the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act as well as the Clean Water Act.

Check It Out!
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has improved its Nonpoint Source Outreach Toolbox by adding an enhanced search feature and more content, including stormwater television, radio, and print ads.

Did we miss something? Feel free to suggest content by e-mailing Kristina Twigg at or WEF’s stormwater team lead, Seth Brown at