Here is a synopsis of some of my recent projects. As can be seen, my work involves many collaborations with colleagues from watershed organizations, other consulting firms, and government agencies. Collaboration is an important hallmark for building abiding relationships and successful projects.
Updating the Runoff Reduction Method
Metro Nashville developed their own LID Manual in 2016, with specifications based largely on Virginia’s Runoff Reduction Method. Recently, as the LID Manual shifted from voluntary to a required component of stormwater plans, the Metro Government was interested in making sure the runoff reduction rates assigned to various BMPs were updated based on more recent research (the original RRM Memo was published in 2008).
Metro contacted the original authors, and I had the opportunity to lead an exceptional team to review BMP research conducted since 2007. Indeed, the new studies did result in recommendations to update runoff reduction rates for practices such as bioretention, green roofs, sheetflow, and permeable pavement. Our team included Jon Hathaway from the University of Tennessee (along with a cadre of graduate students), Kelly Lindow from CityScape Engineering, Tom Schueler from Chesapeake Stormwater Network, and Marcus Aguilar, previously with Virginia Tech. We hope to continue working on the research update along with our colleagues at the Center for Watershed Protection.
What a name! In fact, BMPs keep getting better. A couple of years ago, I co-authored a literature review, with Tom Schueler of the Chesapeake Stormwater Network and Bryan Seipp from the Center for Watershed Protection, analyzing research papers of how BMP performance for nutrient removal can be enhanced. Strategies reviewed included adding amendments to soil media, adding internal water storage, and enhancing the role of vegetation.
On the heels of this effort, I collaborated with CWP to secure a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust to “operationalize” some of these BMP enhancements. That means investigating how they can be scaled up from research to actual practice and be inserted into BMP specifications. As a result, I have been visiting drinking water treatment plants to see how they manage the residuals from the treatment process — a by-product that can help enhance treatment for dissolved forms of Phosphorus. CWP will be chipping in with specifications for modifying roadside ditches to help treat stormwater.
The original paper is available on CSN’s website; the site also includes free downloads of two very informative webcasts on the subject.
Working with Beth Ginter, Shereen Hughes, and several other trainers, I am on my third year of supporting the certification program. My role has shifted from training road warrior (I have assisted with 15 Level 1 trainings across the Bay Watershed, leading the stormwater management components of the training) to supporting a new cadre of trainers and assisting Beth and Shereen with some program development.
The program has attracted a broad range of certification applicants, including landscape designers and contractors, local government stormwater and landscape staff, and campus/facility managers, among others. It was been very gratifying working with Beth, Shereen, and a spirited and talented pool of people who have become certified. I believe this program is an important component in raising the bar across the Chesapeake Bay Watershed for sustainable landscaping and a more enlightened approach to planting design and maintenance for stormwater practices.
I am fortunate to help conduct a training right here in my backyard at the University of Virginia (July 9-10). I will also be stepping out of the Bay Watershed and assisting with a training in New Jersey later in the year. Check out the website below for more information.
CBLP candidates assess a stormwater practice in Lancaster, PA
Schools seem to be becoming hubs for Green Infrastructure, and Richmond is leading the charge in Virginia, under the inspired guidance of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay and its RiverWise Communities program. I had the opportunity to work with a talented team — Meredith Dash and Nissa Dean from the Alliance, Scott Guinn Dilworth from SG Designs, and Kip Mumaw from Ecosystem Services, LLC — to develop a student-led green infrastructure plan for the school grounds. The students has opportunities to identify green infrastructure sites, fill out retrofit forms, calculated pollutant loads, and even make their own videos about each green practice.
Scotty and Meredith are now leading the effort to implement some of the recommendations, including working with local sculptors on a very cool rainwater capture sculpture, permeable pavement, and conservation landscaping, including Scotty’s inspired spiral at the front of the school.
The South River Science Team (SRST) is a fifteen year old effort to study and recommend remedial options for mercury contamination in the South River, which runs through Waynesboro, VA and north to its confluence with the South Fork Shenandoah. The SRST has been coordinated jointly by DuPont and Virginia DEQ. I have been a member of the SRST “expert panel” since 2010, mostly to bring a watershed perspective to a panel of scientists and researchers who are experts on mercury and river systems. I am now coordinating the Science Team and facilitating the Regulatory Advisory Panel, composed of citizen representatives from the area.
This has been a fascinating case study of informing implementation with science and using a collaborative approach. The streambank remediation project at Constitution Park has been completed, and two others are underway in the City of Waynesboro. Check out the very informative website:
Members of the South River Remediation Advisory Panel tour streambank work underway in Waynesboro
Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville is implementing a national model, community-based redevelopment process at the Southwood Mobile Home Park, the region’s largest concentration of affordable housing. Southwood is currently home to 1,500 people and 350 trailer pads. Working with the residents at all levels, Habitat plans to transform the community into a mixed income, mixed-use development without displacing existing residents. I worked with Ecosystem Services, LLC to secure a NFWF grant to start designing some restoration projects for the site. To date, we have mapped wetlands and stream buffers and conducted studies and conceptual restoration designs for “Stream 3,” a severely degraded stream that runs through the heart of Southwood. We also worked with Diana Foster from the Boys & Girls Club and many volunteers to build a trail along the stream to open access access and understanding among community members.