NRC Report Calls for Radical Stormwater Permit Reform

NRC Report Calls for Radical Stormwater Permit Reform

Over the past two years, a National Research Council panel has investigated our capability to improve the nation’s water quality through our current stormwater practice and permitting program. The expert panel was sponsored by US EPA, and included 13 of the best minds in stormwater across the nation, along with one village idiot (me). We travelled to LA, Austin, Seattle, Cape Cod, and DC to learn from other researchers, and spent countless hours reviewing the state of our stormwater science, law and engineering. The product of our effort was released last month, entitled Urban Stormwater Management in the United States.

To be honest, many of the reports issued by academic panels come from the ivory tower, worshipping at the altar of complexity, while calling for more research dollars before we can solve the problem. This report is an interesting exception in that it outlines a series of far-reaching recommendations to reform the current broken stormwater permitting system, and arrives at a consensus on many of the scientific, legal and engineering issues that have long eluded our profession. While it is doubtful the current EPA administration will do much to implement its finding, it should be a good road map for reform in the next one. So, it’s definitely worth reading, particularly the last chapter.

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