Stormwater People

Elwood Blues to Bob’s Country Bunker waitress, Claire: “What kind of music do you usually have here?”

Claire: “Oh, we got both kinds.  We got country and western.”


Well, here at, we got both kinds of stormwater – construction and post-construction.

As we begin to see beyond regulation and mere compliance, and we start looking at why we do what we do, we find ourselves talking to some strange folks. We may have started as someone simply doing their best to stay out of trouble on a construction site or we may have been initially focused on the quality and quantity of runoff from already constructed facilities.   Over time, for one reason or another, the line between the two traditionally separated worlds began to blur.

We find ourselves seemingly out of our comfort zone learning in areas that we didn’t think we cared about.  I’m loving it.

Many associations, conferences, and meetings with their names heavily weighted in the phrase, erosion control are actively seeking to place as much emphasis on topics of LID and Green Infrastructure as they are active treatment, sediment basins and erosion control products.  The faces and footwear of the members and participants aren’t nearly as predictable as they once were.

In his latest column in IECA’s magazine, Environmental Connection, Dr. Rich McLaughlin acknowledges that many of us are finding ourselves in both worlds.  Like some of his current research, the article is a hybrid.  It discusses construction practices that have post-construction benefits.

According to EPA, low impact development is an approach to land development (or re-development) that works with nature to manage stormwater as close to its source as possible.  Wikipedia says that LID emphasizes conservation and use of on-site natural features to protect water quality. It implements engineered small-scale hydrologic controls to replicate the pre-development hydrologic regime of watersheds through infiltratingfiltering, storing, evaporating, and detaining runoff close to its source.   The state of completion of the project really doesn’t play into the definition.

As EPA seems to be shifting its emphasis related to natural buffers at construction sites from sediment filtration and retention to infiltration, it appears that they may still be in a one or the other mind set (see EPA’s Federal Register Notice on Effluent Limitations Guidelines and Standards for the Construction and Development Point Source).

The more we expand our stormwater knowledge (into either side), the better equipped we will be to address and fulfill the goals of the Clean Water Act.

It appears that subscribers to are a pretty good mix of both construction and post-construction stormwater professionals. The makeup of the many stormwater groups on LinkedIn are not as visible to me.  If I had to guess, I would say the majority of the groups I am a part of lean towards post construction.

If you have a second, post a comment either on or at the LinkedIn group discussion of your choice and let us know where your passion lies.  Is your current focus primarily on construction or post-construction?  Or are you a hybrid stormwater professional?  

I am proud to say that I grew up construction but have happily grown into a hybrid.

Connect with both kinds.  Sign up above.

3 thoughts on “Stormwater People

  • Barry,
    Thank you for bringing a smile to my face with the beginning of your this post. In my 30 years of Civil Engineering practice, the majority of my time was spent pre-construction. Juking and jieving through the ever changing regulations, watching as regulators matured from quantity management to quality and now the height of micro management! Mid way through my carrer I became more aware and familiar with the construction practices, and the important aspects of monitoring and tresting. Understanding the intricacies of constructing and converting a stromwater facility to it’s final form. Now my focus has become post construction. As our Company name (Stromwater Maintenance and Consulting) emphasizes, We soley concentrate on all the facilities that have been constructed and forgotten. We get the opportunity to restore. Satisfaction in this realm seems to be even more fulfilling then mastering the design, tweaking the numbers and fitting SWM into a budget. Of course with the advent of the EPA’s mandate, state and local government guidelines and fees, Stormwater Management is now the new catch phrase for many and many more to come. However, finding that neglected, broken down, silted in and rusted away engineered structure in the field, reminds us that once this engineered marvel of runoff management actually did something to help-when operating correctly! Now we have a opportunity to do even greater work to restroe, retrofit and even create management practices that have the potential to be here today and not gone tomorrow. Every dollar spent and effort made to restore what is now broken will lead to a better affect downstream. So I encourage all to join post side of management, begin good stewardship of what we’ve made and (in keeping with your opening theme) remember ;We are on a mission from God!

  • Barry, I always enjoy your posts. I greatly appreciate your blogs as they seem to focus on just what I’m pondering myself.

    I am a hybrid. But I am a hybrid that integrates one more item in the mix; Outreach and education. I’m a hydrogeologist, not an engineer, so I understand the function of and how to improve structural BMPS, but I am not legally able to design them. Or at least not without an engineers stamp, and currently, I do not work with any who have the background to be able to do that. So currently, I educate others, especially on retrofits and some great outreach education opportunities that are too frequently missed.

    I see everything as an outreach opportunity….

    I Live in Michigan now, and the SESC regulations here are from 1972-1977 and although I’m sure that at the time they were written they were considered progressive, relative to the federal standard, they are night and day. Construction BMPs here are nearly non existant, and sediment transport off site is a massive problem. None of those who have historically lived here and have never seen appropriate management understand just how ridiculously bad it is here. They see the end result…the need to dredge…but they don’t seem to connect the dots. And even with the weaker regs, there are ways to interpret them and use them more effectively, but there is tremendous push back from local government, and the state seems to be able to do little in changing the outcome. And EPA, well….region 5 seems to be much more hands off than I’m used to.

    I think its a really serious problem, the entire SESC industry is negligible here, and the regs need serious ammending to be effective and to meet the federal standard.

    So although I am hybrid, my personal focus has been largely SESC just because of its disturbing lack of a presence here in the Great Lakes State.

  • Tammie – “I see everything as an outreach opportunity.”
    The first of the Five Pillars of Construction Stormwater Management is communication. I’m thinking that it should also be the first of however many pillars of post construction Stormwater management as well.

    Thanks for the comment. Your have been officially registered as a hybrid.

    Jack, thank you for sharing also. I’m seeing you as post construction but with a past. My wife and I were talking about your line of business and its growth just yesterday. I would guess that it should continue to expand as new facilities are installed and as old ones begin to fail.

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