Play of the Game

I am an alumnus of Auburn University and fan of Auburn football. To many, Auburn’s team performance has been characterized in the last two seasons by single, spectacular, and game-winning (or losing) plays. Those are the plays that hit the highlight reel and let us easily judge and sum up our opinions of the quality of a team.AU

Last season, with unbelievable ending plays against Georgia and Alabama, it bothered me that the wins were often written off as sheer dumb luck. I knew that in order for those plays to have happened, the team had to be a position for them to happen.

The plays of the game against Texas A&M two games ago went the other way for Auburn. Two fumbles in last minute critical situations prevented Auburn from pulling off the win. Bad dumb luck? Maybe. But I would prefer to say that, once again, Auburn earned that circumstance. Fumbles, penalties, and dropped passes chipped away at any cushion Auburn might have built through good play.

Success and failure in stormwater, like in football, rarely truly hinge on a single play or event. We may point to a big storm, or even a perfect storm combination of several events as the reason for our failure. But the truth is often buried somewhere in the story of our dropped balls and other miscues along the way. Every play and every day counts. from planning to design and into construction; from managing sediment to erosion to water to work to communication; every step matters. Like football, we will never know the true effect of each play or action on the overall outcome of the project. But we can grasp the principle and know the benefits of cushion, and buffer, and earned grace.  The only way to build those is striving for excellence in everything we do (not perfection, excellence – there is a difference).

Our wins will not always be praised or even noticed. Nor will our losses always trigger boos from our opponents or fans. But they might.  And those possibilities are worth our consideration and our best effort on every play.

 

 

 

Response-Ability

Responsibility: our ability to respond.

The level of concern in the general public over the recently proposed rule attempting to clarify the definition of Waters of the United States really didn’t surprise me much. If the subject was even on their radar, it was because of clips and snippets of information provided to them from their favorite media source. The Clean Water Act and its historical and recent interpretation, implementation, and reason for existence is a long and complicated story. It’s is certainly not five O’clock news material.

And it also wasn’t a shock to see non-traditional, but more widely accepted “news” media take the opportunity to use the proposed rule to promote whatever agenda and support whichever party they may be leaning toward.

And what politician worth his salt would ever give up an opportunity to criticize a “government” action? Even if the action is demanded by politicians to clarify rules created by politicians that politicians (and even the Supreme Court) can’t sort out cleanly enough to implement.

Similar to politicians, interest groups and industry associations that must show action to warrant their existence (and membership numbers), would be crazy to not take a stand against Big Business or The Man to protect its subscribers’ way of life.

But I have been surprised by the water quality profession’s public response, or lack of one. There was obviously an opportunity and obligation to provide comment to the agencies. But larger than that, I think we missed a great opportunity to start or join the public conversation. The misunderstanding and misinformation appeared to be based on shock that tributaries are chemically, physically, and biologically connected to the bigger waters. Or an inability to imagine that the federal government was planning to regulate waters so small that a ship couldn’t float in them, in spite of the fact that this has been the case for decades.

It’s not often that water quality issues land front and center, right in the middle of your neighbor’s (and my Dad’s) living room. From farming magazines, to local newspapers, to Fox, CNN, and CNBC – the conversation was happening, sometimes is a very misinformed and twisted way.

But we sat to the side, had some discussions among ourselves, and worked on our comments to the agencies.

Why is that? Was the topic too complex to explain rationally to the uninformed? Was it not worth the hassle? Did it place us on the opposite side of our declared public politics? Or is it simply easier to whine with the whiners?

I have said before that the Clean Water Act set forth a very real expectation that we get better. If water quality professionals are unable or unwilling to sort the truth from the fiction, and publically articulate their knowledge and views (either way) on such important proposal to clarify such an important law, then who should?

The deadline for the comment period has passed. But there will be another opportunity to educate and inform the general public on this proposal and matters of water quality. The implementation of the rule will make larger waves in the news media than its withdrawal by the agencies. I encourage us to be ready for either. The 42 year-old goals of the Clean Water Act aren’t getting any younger, and the rate of improvement in the quality of our Nation’s waters still lags far behind our 42 year-old intentions.

Like change or not, please take time to fully investigate the reasons behind proposed change related to water quality and start sharing your knowledge and expertise outside of our own peer network. Clean water is way to important to only be publically discussed on talk radio.

Incommunicado… kind of

A few of you noticed my absence here recently while others saw way too much of me. The last three last three months have been tough as obligations,  commitments, and opportunities came calling all at once. Projects, training, speaking, learning, meeting, leading, following, contributing, serving, teaching, and working. I decided to give up a few favorite, but discretionary things for a while to accommodate the extra. I hope you enjoyed the break. As I get back into our continuing discussion of leadership and water quality, I wanted to first share with you some highlights of my recent work -

  • Meeting and getting to know professionals from across the country. There are some extremely interesting people in our world. Taking time to get to know some of them was a real treat.
  • Delivering a half-day collaborative leadership workshop to the Montana Department of Water Quality and Montana Transportation Department. After lunch, it was very satisfying to watch and be a part of an open forum as these two government agencies chose to explore solutions together. Collaborative leadership at its finest.  This was one of a few presentations with my favorite co-collaborator, Jesse Poore.
  • Delivering the keynote address at the first annual EPA Region 4 wet weather conference. The quality, quantity, and aquatic diversity of southeastern US waters is a global treasure. I loved being a part of something big, especially as its just getting started.
  • Creating and delivering effective construction stormwater design training dedicated solely to designers. For the last 15-20 years, construction stormwater training has largely been focused on those in construction. Nearly 100 designers in three, day-and-a-half-long classes were shown most of the why, a good part of the what, and some of the how.  We ended with all three classes being treated to a hands on field day at the Auburn University Erosion and Sediment Control Testing Facility.
  • Participating in a National discussion on EPA and the Corps’ proposed definition of Waters of the US. It was an unexpected, but exciting experience. WEF published a panel and perspectives-based article and hosted an associated webcast last week. I understand the webcast registration numbers set a record for the organization.  Very cool to be invited as a contributor.
  • Contributing to a national organization dedicated to working for water quality and water quality professionals.  The reward is well-worth the time and effort required to hang with the EnviroCert Board of Directors. Stay tuned for some exciting changes ahead…
  • Having opportunities for influence locally and nationally. Bringing ideas and best practices back home to Alabama is one of the perks of getting out and about. Seeing that Alabama is on the cutting edge in a few areas is also fun.
  • Being challenged and rising to the occasion. (Recognizing that I have been gifted with health, the understanding of family, the help of friends, and blessing of my employer). Teaching and presenting at about ten different events, on about six different topics, in five different states (and two webinars) in about eleven weeks. Drained but satisfied and hopeful about the future.

Moving forward -

I plan to get back into a groove of weekly posts on leadership and water quality. Be thinking about topics and news for discussion. Also consider guest-posting. At the end of each month, we’ll continue to look back at Stormwater In the Mainstream.

Thanks for sticking around.

 

Stormwater in the Mainstream August 2014

Earlier this month the mainstream and citizens of Toledo were introduced to one significant potential harm regarding stormwater runoff – green algae. While the Toledo Mayor said the wake-up call was similar to that of a terrorist attack, a State Senator is leaning on a fertilizer management bill that should take effect at the end of 2017 according to a commenter. Swimming and fishing in the water we pee in is one thing, asking people to drink appears to be quite another.

This month’s Stormwater in the Mainstream brought to you by StormwaterTools.com and Google News is ripe with connections between stormwater and more mainstream water related concerns like drinking water and wastewater.  Enjoy…

Iowa farm groups to support water quality alliance

Iowa City Press Citizen  - ‎Aug 26, 2014‎
McMahon said the alliance can make “meaningful and substantial improvements to water quality in Iowa” and stave off efforts to regulate the state’s nearly 90,000 farmers, many of whom raise corn and soybeans.

New developments in the debate over stormwater

KRDO  
A plan to solve the Pikes Peak Region’s stormwater problem continues to find support and opposition. Colorado Springs City Council approved the regional stormwater plan Tuesday afternoon (8/26/14), but a decision on fees will take just a little longer.

Adams County stormwater fee program under question again

The Denver Post
Written by

Yesenia Robles

Adams County’s treasurer and one of its commissioners are asking for an investigation into the county’s stormwater program, which started last year, after finding that it again may be riddled with errors.

West Lafayette rain tax curbs pollution, storm runoff

Journal and Courier  - ‎Aug 25, 2014‎
Rain, so essential for life, brings with it unwanted problems of standing water where insects breed, erosion that chokes rivers with silt and runoff that carries pollutants to waterways, especially the Wabash River. Solving these problems often costs

Medway Planning Board mulls Tri-Valley’s stormwater proposal

Milford Daily News  
MEDWAY – The Planning and Economic Development Board Tuesday held the second session of a public hearing for Tri-Valley Commons, where the board, applicant and engineers primarily discussed stormwater management. The proposed plans for the …

 

 

City says sensitivity training coming to Stormwater Department

Tampabay.com
 
PETERSBURG – City officials say they are taking multiple steps to address issues in the Stormwater Department in the aftermath of a black city worker’s claim that his white boss spray-painted “KKK” on his back, and a subsequent investigation that

Green Infrastructure An Alternative Solution To Help Fix Sewage Problems

CBS Local  -
The Pittsburgh Park’s Conservancy and its partners are spending $2 million on so-called “green infrastructure” to trap rainwater before it makes its way into the sewer system.

Water quality notification lifted in Atlantic Beach

Jacksonville Daily News  -
MOREHEAD CITY– State recreational water quality officials today lifted a water quality notification in Atlantic Beach.

Group Talks Future of State’s Water Quality

whotv.com  -
DES MOINES, Iowa – The state’s water quality has a long way to go. At least, that’s what one might have gathered at the Department of Natural Resources’ Triennial Review meeting in downtown Des Moines Wednesday morning.

Etna completes 2 projects to keep storm water out of sewer lines

Tribune-Review  -
Officials celebrated the completion of two projects in the borough’s Green Infrastructure Master Plan that will redirect storm water that normally would flow into combined sewer pipes. The water instead will be directed into the ground. Etna and

Rights to California surface water far greater than average runoff

Los Angeles Times  -
California over the last century has issued water rights that amount to roughly five times the state’s average annual runoff, according to new research that underscores a chronic imbalance between supply and demand. That there are more rights than

Peer deans at Xavier in New Orleans assist freshmen, green infrastructure

The Times-Picayune – NOLA.com (blog)  -
Parkway Partners will host Green Keepers, an educational series designed to teach residents about green infrastructure, which includes proper storm water management, the dangers of too much concrete/paved surfaces, and how to use plants and trees in …

Stormwater management plan stuck in stalemate in Unity, Latrobe, Derry

Tribune-Review  -
Officials from Unity, Latrobe and Derry Township continue to be at a stalemate regarding funding for an $8.2 million stormwater management project benefiting all three communities. After months of debate and state mediation, municipal authority board …

El Paso County commissioners OK creation of regional stormwater authority

Colorado Springs Gazette  -
The approval is a huge step in “controlling stormwater,” said Commissioner Amy Lathen, who has played a major role in the regional stormwater task force that first met in August 2012. Dave Munger, co-chairman of the task force, was at Tuesday’s meeting …

Daines should support Clean Water Act

Helena Independent Record  -
Montanans love our water. Our water is the best in the world when it comes to drinking, fishing, floating, swimming and just plain enjoying.

How to protect drinking water from stormwater pollution

WBNG-TV  -
How to protect drinking water from stormwater pollution. By Anna Norris. August 20, 2014 Updated Aug 20, 2014 at 7:33 PM EDT.

Town improvements will rebuild residential roads and alleys, improve

nwitimes.com  -
“We have looked at implementing storm water improvements within the alleys by installing new storm basins and laying pipe.

 

Priorities

Behind the scenes up front: Following the suggestion of a friend, I am reading the book, Essentialism by Greg McKeown. I was distracted early on with McKeown’s observation of the use of the word, priority. The singular use of the word has been around since the 1400s. The plural form, priorities, didn’t exist until the 1900s. The original word referred to the very first or prior thing. Determining our single priority is, well, essential, according to McKeown.

 

We do often think and talk about our priorities. But rarely do we settle on a single priority as guiding a particular area of our lives. Stormwater is at the top of most of our lists, at least in our professional lives. But it is likely not the priority of our company or organization. And in many cases, it’s not even considered in our company’s long list of priorities. Can that be ok?

Unless your company or organization was established for the sole purpose of managing stormwater (stormwater authority or association, stormwater contractor/designer/inspector, etc.), I believe we should accept that stormwater isn’t a “priority” for most and do our part to support our company’s mission, whatever that may be.

While protecting water quality may not be an essential element of our organization’s purpose, it must be a consideration. How do we as Stormwater professionals make the connection?

It starts with our mission and ends with responsibility. Our organization exists for a reason, to be something or do something that is necessary and/or profitable. As we engage in activities to fulfill our purpose,we introduce the potential to negatively impact the environment. It is this potential (that we caused) that triggers our environmental responsibilities. These come in the form of regulatory requirements and social expectations.

The purpose, the priority, the mission of my particular employer is to provide a transportation system for the movement of people and goods within my state. As we build, maintain, and operate that system, we engage in activities that have the potential to negatively impact the environment (our mission automatically creates a tension between preservation of natural resources and the creation and support of infrastructure resources). What we do is regulated by society. It is regulated in the form of written rules, and by an understood social contract with affected communities and individuals whom we serve.

Both ends of the process must be adequately addressed. If we fail to address our responsibilities, our ability to fulfill our mission is affected. If we fail to address our mission, our purpose for being, our very existence could be threatened.

It takes big picture thinking to make the connection between our priority and our responsibilities. It takes courageous communication to effectively share the connection. It takes leadership to keep the connection at the forefront of decision making and to ensure that adequate attention and effort is given to both ends of the process.

Recognizing and accepting that ours isn’t THE priority isn’t always easy. But service isn’t about us as individuals or us as a profession. It’s about us as a responsible company or organization, or agency, that might happen to have water quality protection as one of our many responsibilities.

 

Other People’s Problems

Speaking of Other People’s Problems here. OK, maybe other people’s dirty water.

I am extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to mingle with stormwater professionals from all over the country (even with some outside of the country). It is a privilege that I try not to take for granted.

Recently, AASHTO hosted a stormwater practitioners conference for state DOT stormwater professionals in Washington DC. This event comes around once every two years and is one of my favorites. During the many opportunities to share and interact with the other states, I was baffled by my reaction to a particular topic of discussion. It was baffling because I should be over it by now. While the issue isn’t prevalent in my area, the topic comes up often in other parts of the nation.

The discussion involves state transportation departments being held responsible for managing waterborne pollutants that originate upstream then cross DOT rights of way. DOTs across the nation are spending significant cash and time attempting to address nutrients, pathogens, and other nasty constituents that typically have zero relation highways.

DOT transportation facilities typically involve the movement of people and goods via cars and trucks. No industry, no golf courses, no agriculture, no sheep, no cows. No rooftops, no parking lots, no feedlots. Just you, me and the four (or eighteen, or two) wheels that we command.

Granted, some use the road as a trash can and cigarette recepticle, and some critters arrive as carion rather than as checked baggage. And there are some pollutants that typically do begin their journey on our asphalt. These aren’t the pollutants I’m talking about.

Generally not being a part of the source, DOTs often struggle to even put a dent in impairments related to these pollutants. Yet they spend the money anyway. Because that’s what the regulator wants. You accept it, you own it. It’s a weak argument and even weaker approach to addressing impairments of our Nation’s waters.

Listening to the debate makes me wonder, what if all of this energy and money were dedicated to things that actually originate on DOT rights of way? What if even a portion of the wasted money was given toward other efforts that focused on these problems by appropriate people in appropriate areas?

How we implement the Clean Water Act is flawed. It is ineffective, inefficient, and hasn’t brought us nearly close enough to meeting the Act’s goals – which were due 30 years ago, by the way. I see this topic as but one of many approaches to enforcement that are failing us.

Ensuring that our natural resources are protected and restored in the most efficient and effective way possible must be one of the primary goals of regulators, professionals, and other practitioners. The current approach misses that goal by a long shot. The waste, the distraction, the missed opportunities. What we are experiencing and continuing to allow and even promote concerns me.  It seems to be a failed attempt at management when what we really need is leadership.

Environmental challenges keep coming at us, some bigger than stormwater. If we stick to the current implementation model being applied to Clean Water Act, I’m not sure future generations will appreciate us very much.

DOTs do not manufacture poop and plant food as a general rule. But beat them up if you wish. They do have some money left and can take up an amount of slack if you want them to (as long as you are really comfortable with the roads you have now). But know that we can do better. Just recognize it for what it is – scapegoating at its finest.

Left and Right (another angle)

A few weeks back, I shared a thought in a presentation then in a post titled, Whole Brained I talked about  how we sometimes get stuck in left-brained thinking - considering only linear, logical, sequential, black and white options. I made the case for also tapping into our right brains for increased effectiveness. The right side of our brain deals mostly with less concrete things like empathy, big picture, creativity, and true design.

Connecting to the theme of left and right, Claire Quiney, a stormwatertools reader shared the infographic below.  If you are like me and have a lefty in your family you will find the creative collection and presentation of facts interesting (my son happens to write with his left hand but does almost everything else as a right-handed person would – talk about using your whole brain…).  For a direct connection to the original topic, scroll to “Cognitive Benefits” just under challenges. If you are looking for a more brain-balanced employee, you may want to at least consider finding a lefty. Pretty cool.

Click on the infographic to enlarge. Enjoy.

 

Left in a Right World
Source: SocialWorkDegreeCenter.com

Cheetahs and Hippos

Imagine the cheetahs in our profession. They are a new breed. They possess a sense of urgency. They are generally no-nonsense and understanding of purpose and accountability. They don’t wait for government to do things for them. Water quality and the goals of the Clean Water Act cannot wait on bureaucracy. Advancement of our profession rests on the back of this generation.

Now the hippos – the ruling elite. They have seen it all, but are stuck where their thinking resides today, or yesterday. They complain. They are static and stagnant. They benefit from the status quo and are content. They are fat and happy. They may be icons and sought after by those needing to just get by, but they can represent risk to our profession.

Hippos and cheetahs may be old or young in age and attitude.  In some areas they may be endangered, in others either may be valued and thriving.

It’s easy to want to take the analogy beyond my basic knowledge of the two, almost cartoon like creatures in my mind. It gets more complicated if we do. In fact, if we look deeper, both species play important roles in ecology. Both have value and both are endangered. Just like in nature, the analogous animals face very different threats.

Stormwater hippos feel threatened by the cheetah, and in some aspects they are. However, what will eventually be their demise is change, their ignorance of it, and their resistance to it. The stormwater cheetah points to the hippo as being the problem. But in reality, she is often her own enemy. She is challenged by her initiative and desire for change. But in her urgency, she runs in short bursts before tiring, which is frustrating and inefficient. She leaves all the hippos behind, missing out on their experience and knowledge.

By definition, leaders must have followers. Effective leaders inspire their followers in a positive direction. A leading hippo is missing a terrific opportunity if he isn’t mentoring and tempering young cheetahs. Hiding his own cynicism is the greatest challenge for the leading hippo. And while life may not be passing the cheetah by, cheetahs must be sensitive to the fact that they could be passing life by. A leading cheetah must have the self-awareness to pace themselves and to know the limits of their own endurance and knowledge. The young cheetahs behind them need to be shown why we are running so fast and shouldn’t be burdened by having to recreate the experiences and knowledge of the hippo.

Young cheetahs should be encouraged, informed, and guided. Young hippos may need to be directed to another profession.

 

 

Behind the scenes: Inspiration for the post came from an interview with Ghanaian economist George Ayittey discussing his TED Talk on corruption in Africa. He referred to two types of leaders there – Cheetahs and Hippos. While the topic is much different, extending the metaphor to stormwater wasn’t that difficult. I stopped short of his characterization of hippos as, “the blind leading the clueless.” It felt familiar but went a little far for my vision of the overall stormwater profession.

Stormwater in the Mainstream July 2014

It’s been hard to keep up with celebrity stormwater during this busy July. However, it appears that stormwater doesn’t take a Summer break.

Enjoy a few  stories found in the mainstream from StormwaterTools.com and Google News below.  Here’s an interesting headline and story to start you off…

 

Why NC water-quality plans must include therapy, like SolarBees, as well as

News & Observer  
Reservoirs such as the 14,000-acre Jordan Lake are built to control water quantity, not quality. Developing a cost-effective plan to improve Jordan’s water quality requires addressing these questions: What is federal policy? Is it working well? If not

New Paving Project Will Help Philadelphia Manage Stormwater

CBS Local  
KYW’s Pat Loeb reports it’s paved a parking lot with materials that will let rain drain directly into the ground. “We’re not going to have a traditional ribbon-cutting today, instead we’re going to have a water-pouring,” Water Commissioner Howard

Durham Works to Mitigate Stormwater Issues

TWC News  
DURHAM– Some business owners along University Drive in Durham say flooding has been an issue in the area for years. At Nana’s Restaurant, there have been times when the flooding was so bad they had to close their doors to customers.

Bethel: Green infrastructure grant addresses flooding, storm-water runoff

newszap.com  
BETHEL – The Town of Bethel in Sussex County is getting help to reduce flooding, manage storm-water runoff and improve the water quality of Broad Creek, a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay.

Miami Beach leaders proposing a hike in storm water fees to deal with threat

MiamiHerald.com
Written by

Christina Veiga

Miami Beach is proposing an 84 percent increase in storm water fees – the cost of keeping rising seas at bay – with more rises in the future.

Strongsville increases no-bid contract for stormwater repairs by $100000

The Plain Dealer  
STRONGSVILLE, Ohio – On Monday, City Council increased a no-bid contract for emergency stormwater repairs from $100,000 to $200,000.

Stormwater project in Clarksville causes concern among neighbors

Evening News and Tribune  -
The existing pump station can only handle a fraction of the water that needs to be moved to the storm water lines, which currently necessitates the use of a mobile pump station to supplement the one that’s permanently affixed.

Stormwater signage to be unveiled in Nampa

Idaho Press-Tribune  - ‎6 hours ago‎
“Most people don’t realize that they can help keep stormwater pollution out of our water bodies,” said environmental compliance superintendent Cheryl Jenkins.

Walton County Commissioners Try to Resolve Storm Water Issue

WJHG-TV  
WALTON COUNTY– There is no doubt that after heavy rains, all of Walton County deals with significant amounts of storm water. During last week’s budget meeting, County Commissioners spoke about finding a way to make some room in next year’s budget …

Hazmat crew removes motor oil dumped into Lebanon’s stormwater system

Lebanon Daily News  
City of Lebanon fire crews and the Lebanon County Hazardous Material Team lower booms into the storm sewer on Cumberland Street at 10th and Cumberland streets to clean up motor oil that was dumped into the stormwater system. … for several years to

Stormwater task force says fee ready to be judged by voters

Colorado Springs Gazette  
The Colorado Springs City Council will consider a resolution Tuesday on whether it wants the city to be part of a regional stormwater effort and form an authority with El Paso County, Manitou Springs, Green Mountain Falls and Fountain. The authority

City creates funding mechanism for stormwater project

Tahoe Daily Tribune  
South Lake Tahoe has created a community facilities district for properties to help pay for operation and maintenance of the $15 million Bijou Erosion Control project and meet their own stormwater requirements. South Lake Tahoe City Council … The

EOMAP, Landgate Launch New Water Quality Monitoring Tools

Dredging Today  
German and Australian scientists today launched state-of-the-art water quality monitoring tools that will enable anyone in the world to zoom in on what is stirring up under the surface of Australian waters.

 

Bethel: Green infrastructure grant addresses flooding, storm-water runoff

newszap.com  - ‎12 minutes ago‎
BETHEL – The Town of Bethel in Sussex County is getting help to reduce flooding, manage storm-water runoff and improve the water quality of Broad Creek, a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay. The town is receiving $100,000 in grant funds from the U.S

Hudson River water quality falls short, Riverkeeper says

Kingston Daily Freeman  
OSSINING >> The group Riverkeeper’s recently released water quality report shows Hudson River water quality falls short of the goals of the organization. Riverkeeper Paul Gallay said the results were somewhat disheartening. “Twenty-three percent of our …

Entering the Fray

There is worse than not being helpful. It’s called being harmful.

First responders are trained to run to the fray – to hear the gunfire, smell the smoke, see chaos, and run towards it. They arrive to make things better.  Not to join one side or the other or to add fuel. First responders are our heroes. We value their training and expertise. We value their dedication. We value their willingness to help when we need them.  They are indispensable. But again, they haven’t declared loyalty to any of us or to our particular movement.

It’s a pretty cool concept if you think about it – someone, likely a stranger, is willing to risk their life to help me without knowing me, knowing anything about my personal preferences, or why I happen to be in the circumstances I am in. They help regardless of fault or responsibility, even when I may actually deserve my predicament.

In many respects, stormwater professionals also serve as first responders. If we are what I think we are, we run to the messes. We see turbid waters, and careless actors, and battles between opposing views, and if we are truly dedicated to water quality, we run toward the chaos. Not to sidle up to those with views that might match our own or to take up arms for ones cause, but to make things better.

Stormwater can be a turbulent topic. Regulation is changing. Interpretation of that regulation is changing. Expectations of regulators, contractors, developers, our neighbors, and our society are changing. Professionals who can make sense and create calm in the face of disorder and mayhem are valuable – and in many cases can be true heroes.

By now, you know that I am all for causing a ruckus. So it may be a bit confusing to you that I would recommend staying neutral as we aim to serve and protect. But there is a big difference between causing a ruckus as a servant and joining one as a professional. Which is still different than being calm and helpful during war between others.

All three types of engagement have the potential to create heroes. The leader understands which role is appropriate as each opportunity is presented.

It’s not about riding fences, taking advantage of unfortunate events, or piling on. It’s about discernment and about being professional. It’s about taking responsibility for doing what we need to do when we need to do it.

Think about your role as a peacemaker (not for the sake of peace, but for the sake of water quality). And think about your role as advocate (not for the sake of winning, but for the sake of water quality). And think abut your role as professional (not for a salary, but for water quality).

And if you still want to be a part of a fray, think about creating a ruckus of your own.