Leaders Tackle Stormwater Topics at Great Water Cities 2016: Rainfall to Results in Action

Rudolph Chow (right), a Great Water Cities 2016: Rainfall to Results in Action panelist and director of the Baltimore City Department of Public Works, checks into a welcome reception. Photo courtesy of Kieffer Photography.

Rudolph Chow (right), a Great Water Cities 2016: Rainfall to Results in Action panelist and director of the Baltimore City Department of Public Works, checks into a welcome reception. Photo courtesy of Kieffer Photography.

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.

Great Water Cities 2016: Rainfall to Results in Action attendees heard a keynote presentation by Richard W. Spinrad, chief scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Photo courtesy of Kieffer Photography,

Great Water Cities 2016: Rainfall to Results in Action attendees heard a keynote presentation by Richard W. Spinrad, chief scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Photo courtesy of Kieffer Photography.

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.

In addition to networking and participating in table discussions, attendees interacted with speakers by asking questions. Photo courtesy of Kieffer Photography.

In addition to networking and participating in table discussions, attendees interacted with speakers by asking questions. Photo courtesy of Kieffer Photography.

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.

From left, panelists Chris French, director of stormwater programs at WEF; Egils Milbergs, CEO and founder of Center for Accelerating Innovation (Seattle); and Marcus Quigley, CEO of OptiRTC (Boston), discuss ways to support innovation and best practices. Photo courtesy of Kieffer Photography.

From left, panelists Chris French, director of stormwater programs at WEF; Egils Milbergs, CEO and founder of Center for Accelerating Innovation (Seattle); and Marcus Quigley, CEO of OptiRTC (Boston), discuss ways to support innovation and best practices. Photo courtesy of Kieffer Photography.

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

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