For the past five years, maybe longer, Civil Engineers and City Stormwater Managers have been waiting for the EPA to release new rulemaking guidelines at the Federal level. These guides lines would incorporate LEED and LID design parameters to better manage the treatment and reuse of stormwater through infiltration.
After countless delays (including a couple of no-shows by EPA representatives at large stormwater conferences) it was becoming evident that nothing would ever come of this rulemaking effort and the “what do we do next?” attitude in the stormwater community would continue.
No doubt feeling the pressure, the EPA finally released an update and while they changed course a bit, the new approach to enhanced stormwater management makes a lot of sense. Rather than implementing regulations at the national level, the EPA decided to create a strategy that will “focus now on pursuing a suite of immediate actions to help support communities in addressing their stormwater challenges.”
This effort is already starting to have some effect in places like New Mexico, which is revisiting the topic of stormwater infiltration after 100 years of being handcuffed by the Rio Grande Compact. The Compact didn’t allow retention for cities along the Rio Grande for more than a couple of days as the water was needed to sustain life further down the river. Sure, that may have been useful in 1890, but now it’s time to re-evaluate stormwater controls that are beneficial to the community in which the rain falls.
A large component of the EPAs efforts will include a push to “continue to promote green infrastructure as an integral part of stormwater management.” An important part of this push, and a central theme in early drafts of the Rulemaking effort, is stormwater infiltration. Stormwater BMPs such as drywells will be needed to meet future demands for infiltration. Already prevalent in states such as Arizona, California, Oregon and Washington, drywells are gaining interest nationwide for their exceptional infiltration rates, and more advanced systems like the MaxWell IV and MaxWell Plus from Torrent Resources also incorporate superior levels of pretreatment, up to 92% TSS removal in various tests.
The EPA is on the move with their stormwater regulations, finally.