While stormwater runoff has been regulated for over 20 years in the U.S., changes are occurring organically in many communities, and top-down pressures from anticipated regulatory actions are pushing the sector ahead aggressively. With this in mind, municipalities and other regulated entities are in need of the necessary tools to meet the needs of the stormwater sector.
Products and practices to manage and treat stormwater runoff, especially those proprietary in nature, have been employed based upon performance and maintenance information provided. In many instances this data has not been evaluated or verified by independent third parties. For some communities, a gap between expected and actual performance was evident, which led to the development of state and regional programs to test, evaluate, and in some instances verify or certify the performance of products. Some of these programs have been successful, and others have met challenges. Also, some product representatives feel these programs, while providing a valuable service, do so in a timeframe and at financial costs that discourage entry into the market.
Creation of the STEPP Workgroup
With the ending of the only national testing program, the EPA Environmental Technology Verification (ETV) program, there is a vacuum of leadership at the national level. In an attempt to meet the sector’s needs, WEF convened a meeting of interested parties at WEFTEC 2012. Meeting participants stated that lacking a national program to test and evaluate practices limits innovation of emerging technologies and that there is enough interest in the sector to investigate the feasibility and nature of a national program (See WEFTEC 2012 Stormwater Tech-Innovation Meeting Minutes). Meeting participants formed the core of a workgroup referred to as the Stormwater Testing and Evaluation for Products and Practices (STEPP) Workgroup. In addition, a steering committee of 10 members and a chair investigated this topic and produced a white paper articulating the issues and developing recommendations and next steps. The STEPP Workgroup Overview document provides an overview of this group and the Steering Committee roster.
The current STEPP Advisory Committee Roster is available here.
The White Paper
On February 6, 2014, WEF’s STEPP Task Force released a white paper recommending a national testing and evaluation program for stormwater products and practices. The goal of a national program would be to meet the growing need for affordable and effective stormwater management infrastructure and to overcome the hurdles in the sector that restrains innovation in stormwater product and practice technology development.
The paper, “Investigation into the Feasibility of a National Testing and Evaluation Program for Stormwater Products and Practices,” discusses challenges and possible solutions. Challenges mentioned include consistency in protocols, programmatic variability, lab versus field testing, sustainable funding, product and practice categorization, and the need for leadership. The white paper reflects concerns of manufacturers, municipalities, consulting engineers, government, non-governmental organizations, and WEF.
Letters of Support
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), Water Resources Division, is pleased to support the recommendations of the National Stormwater Testing and Evaluation of Products and Practices (STEPP) Workgroup Steering Committee. Read more.
It is the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s understanding that WEF is determining the feasibility of creating a national protocol for the testing and evaluation of Manufactured Treatment Devices. The Department fully supports the development of such a protocol and applauds WEF’s leadership and efforts in this matter. Read more.
The Washington State Chapter of the American Public Works Association’s Stormwater Managers Committee expresses its support for developing a national testing and evaluation program for stormwater products and practices. Read more.
The State of Washington Department of Ecology supports the idea of a national program that provides a level of detail comparable to our program and addresses our concerns. We look forward to working with WEF as you move forward on this project. Read more.