Thought leaders responsible for managing urban stormwater exchanged information and experience with the 121 water sector professionals attending Great Water Cities 2016: Rainfall to Results in Action. The Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) event took place May 10 and 11 in Chicago.
Attendees worked together to devise solutions to stormwater challenges. The event, which focused on stormwater because of its growing role in the water environment, used the 2015 WEF publication Rainfall to Results: The Future of Stormwater as the starting point to focus the discussion.
A total of 24 water sector leaders from the U.S. and Australia spoke at the event. It included a welcome reception; four panel discussions; a luncheon with a keynote presentation by Richard W. Spinrad, chief scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; table discussions; and other speeches. Panelists discussed new ways to drive investments in stormwater and wet weather infrastructure, approaches to asset management, strategies for working across public and private properties in a watershed, and new technologies and best practices.
Discussing stormwater is important, especially in light of changing regulations and new technologies in the U.S. Attendees were able to discuss creative ways to fund projects with limited budgets, how to form partnerships and foster innovation, methods to raise awareness of issues to encourage development of solutions, and the need for infrastructure improvements. They also explored engaging the community, valuing stormwater as a resource, changing mindsets to examine problems from the watershed-scale, and integrating stormwater with other water and environmental issues.
This event was the latest in a series of discussions hosted by WEF examining how the water sector can work to make cities more sustainable. During the discussions, leaders who drive change in their own communities share lessons that could help those working in other locations. The first was held during WEFTEC® 2011, and has continued with a spring event and special session at WEFTECs that followed.
Don’t miss the next discussion in the series during technical session 100 at 10:30 a.m. on Sept. 26 at WEFTEC 2016.
— Jennifer Fulcher, WEF Highlights