On June 24, the Water Environment Federation (WEF) announced the establishment of the WEF Stormwater Institute, a new venture to address the growing issue of stormwater and urban runoff.

The institute will be housed within WEF to leverage the organization’s existing leadership, breadth of membership, and varied partnerships with federal, state, and local entities responsible for managing stormwater issues.

“WEF has been a leader on clean water solutions for many years and has already established itself as a leading authority on urban runoff issues,” said George Hawkins, chief executive officer and general manager of the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (DC Water). “The expertise and engagement of WEF’s membership will allow the Stormwater Institute to chart a new course toward a healthier and more sustainable stormwater system not only in North America but worldwide.”

Bill Gaffi, general manager of Clean Water Services, added that “innovation is key to sustainable watersheds and communities, and better access to innovation puts a sustainable future within the grasp of more communities and can help inform policy making.  The Stormwater Institute can play a powerful role in this regard, a role that would be smiled upon by both Mother Nature and ratepayers.”

The WEF Stormwater Institute will serve as a center for excellence and a resource for stormwater practitioners and regulator communities. Stormwater is the only growing source of water pollution in many watersheds throughout North America. As urban areas grow and more severe weather occurs, the issue of stormwater management will only increase in importance.

“With increasing severe weather events and limited budgets, innovation in stormwater management and financing is becoming increasingly vital to communities across North America,” said WEF President Ed McCormick.“The WEF Stormwater Institute has been created in direct to response to a gap in the water resource recovery sector for a central stormwater leadership, information, and advocacy hub. With more than 36,000 members across the globe, we are thrilled to apply our unique strengths to tackle these vital issues and provide effective and efficient solutions to the thousands of water communities that we serve. WEF is very excited about connecting stormwater professionals from both our [member associations] and regional stormwater organizations as we collaborate to provide leadership across North America.”

The growing issue of stormwater pollution coupled with regulatory pressure has created a need for national leadership that the WEF Stormwater Institute aims to provide. The institute will have a strong initial focus on the development of technical tools, professional training, and networking opportunities for stormwater practitioners worldwide. Many existing stormwater initiatives within WEF will be brought under the umbrella of the institute, and new programs in key areas such as green infrastructure training will be developed.

WEF’s commitment to the institute will include dedicated full-time professional staff as well as significant funding for collaborative projects. Additional announcements about the structure and programmatic activities of the WEF Stormwater Institute will be made in the weeks ahead.

For more information, please visit www.wefstormwaterinstitute.org.