Five years ago, Stormwater‘s publisher, Forester Communications, launched the North American Surface Water Quality Conference & Exposition: StormCon. The idea then was to provide a meeting place for stormwater practitioners, researchers, and newcomers–particularly those who were just beginning to grapple with the requirements of NPDES Phase II, but also those who had well-established stormwater programs and solid research results under their belts. It was meant to be a highly focused forum–a place where stormwater issues were not watered down by the wastewater treatment, groundwater, and other water-related issues as can often happen at larger events. StormCon was intended to be a place where everything stormwater professionals encountered was meant for them.
As the fifth annual StormCon approaches–it will take place July 24–27 in Denver–the conference has become what it set out to be, and it has also expanded in some interesting ways. Still focused on surface-water quality, it now encompasses more of the related disciplines and issues that stormwater managers, researchers, and programs are facing. This is partly because there are more issues to deal with: As the field grows and public understanding becomes more sophisticated, we’ve moved beyond simple, broad outlines and explanations to the nuts and bolts of how different communities are handling funding, prioritizing maintenance tasks, selecting water-quality BMPs from the ever-increasing range of options, and communicating with their (more knowledgeable, more questioning) public and other stakeholders.
The basics are still there, of course, divided into four program tracks to help attendees choose sessions most likely to be relevant to their jobs: BMPs in Practice, Managing the Stormwater Program, Research and Testing of BMPs, and Comprehensive Water Quality Monitoring. This year’s program also includes sessions on industrial stormwater permitting; construction-site inspection; erosion and sediment control issues and how they affect stormwater quality; several sessions dealing with the design and testing of BMPs; basic water-quality research, such as studies on particle size distribution and how it affects BMP performance; and presentations by EPA representatives on running and evaluating municipal stormwater programs. Several low-impact development techniques will be highlighted, including pervious pavement, rain gardens, greenroofs, and swales, and how these can be integrated with other water-quality measures.
The size of the program has increased significantly, offering more sessions to choose from. People from many regions of the country, and a few other countries as well, will talk about the areas of stormwater management they know best, the experiences they’ve had over the past few years, and the work they’re doing now–which, in many cases, will correspond to the work you are doing, or are about to embark on. Whatever your current stormwater concerns, chances are someone at the conference will share them.
The exhibit hall is expanding as well, with about 200 companies presenting the latest products and technologies. Four full-day pre-conference workshops–more than at any previous StormCon–will cover BMPs, stormwater funding and utilities, a hands-on approach to low-impact development, and, for the first time, an EPA-led workshop on Smart Growth and LID.You can see the complete program online at www.StormCon.com. We hope to see you in Denver.