The Trout Brook Storm Sewer Interceptor.

Photo courtesy of Capitol Region Watershed District.

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF COLUMN

 

The Storm Water Issue

 

By Kris Polly

For municipal water providers and managers, especially those with combined systems, storm water is a source of significant water quantity and quality concern. Residents and business owners rely on municipalities and public works departments to move storm water away from their property. At the same time, flows created by storm events pick up pollutants across impervious surfaces and move them into drains and, eventually, lakes and rivers. That stresses treatment systems and recreational opportunities. In this issue of Municipal Water Leader, we focus on the latest solutions for integrating storm water into holistic water management solutions.

In our cover interview, we talk with Dr. Poonam Kalkat, director of public utilities for West Palm Beach, Florida. The city, which is at the nexus of storm water, sewer, and drinking water management, is rethinking storm water. Dr. Kalkat has led the city to develop a storm water master planning process has integrated storm water into its other water services with the potential for real results: flood-related capital improvements, reduced flood insurance premiums, and increased surface water supplies.

Dr. Kalkat explained, “When I came on board, we had a more traditional storm water master plan—it analyzed our drainage capacity and looked at pipe and structure repair or replacement projects. With this plan, the city began looking at different ways to evaluate our storm water system in a holistic manner to develop a new kind of master plan.”

To help develop that holistic approach, West Palm Beach hired HDR, Inc., and one of its senior project managers, Daniel Suarez. Mr. Suarez relates how HDR worked with West Palm Beach to shape and realize its vision for storm water in the city and how the “program touches on . . . critical and emerging issues for storm water throughout Florida.”

Mark Doneux of the Capitol Region Watershed District (CRWD) outside St. Paul, Minnesota, discusses the programs and projects that merited its overall best score in the Phase II division of the Water Environment Foundation’s National MS4 Stormwater and Green Infrastructure Award Program. CRWD’s commitment to creating collaborative partnerships and using innovative technology is critical to its storm water management. Mr. Doneux emphasized, “We talk so much about our innovative practices, but there are new things coming out and we need people in the storm water sector to try them out.”

We also hear from the National Park Service’s Michael Stachowicz, who oversees the irrigation systems sustaining the lawns of the National Mall for its 33 million yearly visitors. He sees the use of storm water as an essential component of healthy public parks and gardens.

Water managers like Dr. Kalkat, Mr. Doneux, and Mr. Stachowicz are leading the way toward more comprehensive water management systems that employ the latest technologies and best practices with the goal of transforming storm water from a nuisance into an asset.

 

Kris Polly is editor-in-chief of Municipal Water Leader magazine and president of Water Strategies LLC, a government relations firm he began in February 2009 for the purpose of representing and guiding water, power, and agricultural entities in their dealings with Congress, the Bureau of Reclamation, and other federal government agencies. He may be contacted at Kris.Polly@waterstrategies.com.

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