Month: June 2014

5 Facts About Sustainable Stormwater Practices

*Note that this post was originally published in 2014 and has been updated in 2020.

In urban and densely populated suburban areas where the highest concentration of impervious surfaces are found, stormwater runoff can be a significant contributor to water pollution. As rain falls in outlying rural areas, the water is absorbed and filtered by the natural vegetation and soil. The impervious surfaces, including roofs, sidewalks, paved parking areas and wide city streets, do not allow the ground to absorb the water and instead is collected in closed drainage systems and often time discharged into nearby surface waters without filtration.

Here we review 5 Facts About Sustainable Stormwater Practices to help communities and agencies that may be planning to develop new “green” infrastructure.

  1. Regulatory Compliance: Stormwater is regulated at the federal level by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Clean Water Act (CWA). The CWA “establishes the basic structure for regulating discharges of pollutants into the waters of the United States and regulating quality standards for surface waters.” Thus making it “unlawful to discharge any pollutant from a point source into navigable waters, unless a permit was obtained.” State Environmental Agencies often apply additional requirements beyond EPA minimum standards to further protect impaired state waters. On a local level, some communities have developed Stormwater Management Plans to assist managing discharge from both private and public properties. Local Ordinances are crafted by community officials as an integral part of subdivision and site plan development review and approval processes. New stormwater regulations often require implementation of sustainable stormwater management practices.
  2. Green Materials: “Green” or sustainable stormwater best management practices treat stormwater as a resource to be preserved and maintained, taking advantage of natural processes to clean and filter stormwater runoff.  Vegetation and soil filtration highlight the obvious green materials used, but some methods growing in popularity include permeable pavement, down spout disconnection, rainwater harvesting, rain gardens, planter boxes, tree filters, green roofs, bioswales, as well as land conservation. With the incorporation of one or more of these design features, urban spaces are able to reduce the percentage of impervious surfaces thus reducing the volume of stormwater runoff.
  3. Public-Private Partnerships: State and local governments collaborating with developers on properties within different regions to incorporate Green Infrastructure into the design/redesign will in turn save money via stormwater diversion and treatment by the agencies. Offering tax credits or incentives to the developers is intended to accelerate the adoption of these improved stormwater management practices leading to more extensive implementation statewide.
  4. Funding Availability: Many funding options are available through federal and state agencies including EPA, Departments of Transportation, US Economic Development Administration (EDA), Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), as well as the Departments of Agriculture, Energy and Treasury. Grants available through these agencies will help offset the cost for municipal and private entities to invest in sustainable stormwater collection, filtration and treatment upgrades to existing or redeveloping sites.
  5. Benefits: Environmental – Improperly managing stormwater runoff into surface waters can contain pollutants from the surfaces it is diverted from, potentially causing damage to aquatic vegetation and wildlife. Uncontrolled stormwater runoff can also cause physical damage such as erosion and flooding.  With the implementation of green infrastructure practices, contaminants can be reduced in the receiving water bodies and create healthier environments. Social – Incorporating sustainable stormwater management practices can improve water quality, quantity and aesthetics, thereby enhancing the livability of a community, creating multifunctional landscapes and green spaces, encouraging revitalization, and providing educational opportunities. Economic – The use of green infrastructure may provide incentives to attract investment; reinvigorate neighborhoods; inspire redevelopment; or provide new recreational opportunities.

To find out more about community stormwater management practices, the EPA has issued resources outlining practices to assist while achieving other environmental, social and economic benefits.

Employee Spotlight: Matt O’Brien

  1. What brought you to work at Hoyle, Tanner?
    • To be perfectly honest, it was kind of by chance. The 2008 economic crash played a big role in bringing me here. I was exploring new opportunities, and Hoyle, Tanner was the only firm hiring at the time. The fact that I would be working with aviation was also a huge plus, because it has really become my passion. I studied civil engineering in school and originally thought I’d end up doing heavy highway. This is much better, though, because the projects are bigger, more complex and require heavy machinery. I guess I share Tim Taylor’s motto fromHome Improvement: “More power!”
  2. What do you like most about working at here?
    • I love how laidback my department is. Everyone puts in the time and gets their work done, but people don’t try to keep tabs on one another. It’s a really good atmosphere.
  3. How do you spend your time outside of the office? Any favorite pastimes or family activities?
    • On the average night, you can find me and my wife vegging out on the couch. There’s always debate about what we want to watch (She chooses Oscar-winners, while I usually just want to see action-adventure movies likeSherlock Holmes), but since we’re getting ready for a new baby, we’re both very happy for the relaxation time. Other than that, one of my favorite things we do each year is a Labor Day camping trip with my sister-in-law and her husband. That’s always really fun.
  4. What is one thing you couldn’t live without and why?
    • I’ve never really had a good answer to this type of question. Other than basic necessities, I feel like I could pretty much give up anything if I needed to. However, I would definitely be sad to never eat freshly-baked cookies out of the oven again. That would make me upset.
  5. Tell me a random fact most people don’t know about you.
    • I’m kind of obsessed with compost. Part of my senior design project in college dealt with creating energy from compost, and ever since, I’ve been fascinated by it. I compost everything: yard clippings, leaves, food waste – you name it! I guess if someone didn’t know me, they may be surprised by that. Talk to me for a little while, though, and you’ll probably know more about me than you wanted to.
  6. Do you have a favorite quote or any words you live by?
    • I enjoy fortune cookies. I’m amazed how sometimes they are so accurate. There was one that said, “He who laughs, lasts.” It pretty much says, “Be happy and you’ll live a long life,” but it plays on the saying about the last one to laugh at a joke… Pretty deep for a fortune cookie.
  7. Before working here, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?
    • I worked at Hannaford as a bagger/cart collector. It really wasn’t a terrible job, but it certainly showed me that I wanted to get an education so I would never have to do it again.
    • I worked as a meter reader for a power company for a while, too, and that job was pretty unique. I once had to read a meter for this massive house on Lake Sebago. It was one of those summer homes where the owners were never there. Naturally, I took the opportunity to eat lunch and go swimming on their beach [laughs]. The next house on my list was on this island that you could only reach by boat, so the company hadn’t read its meter for something like ten years. I ended up rolling up my pants and walking out to it on a sandbar, and I got a reading that really surprised my bosses… Still not sure whether they were happy or angry with me for that! Anyway, that was an unusual job.
  8. Would you ever want to be famous? If so, for what?
    • I think I’d like to be famous to a certain extent. I would never want to be movie star famous, having people follow me around or having to do interviews. I’d more like to be known for an accomplishment, you know? I would be happy with Matt O’Brien as a household name like Bill Gates… or even being on a product like Heinz. As long as the product wasn’t something really weird, I think that would be pretty cool.
  9. If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?
    • This is one I talked about a lot as a kid. Flying is obviously the best answer. It would also be really interesting to read minds, but flying would come first.

Employee Spotlight: Jill Semprini

  1. What brought you to work at Hoyle, Tanner?
    • First, I really wanted to work in New Hampshire. I had worked in Boston for four years prior, and that was not a fun commute while living in Portsmouth. When a former colleague recommended Hoyle, Tanner and said it was the top firm to work for in the state, applying here just made sense.
  2. What do you like most about working at Hoyle, Tanner? (If he/she has been here for a number of years, add: What has kept you here so long?
    • I love the people! And the diversity of the work is great. You get to see smaller projects through from beginning to end, but you also have the larger, more complex projects to balance that out. Overall, it’s a good mix.
  3. Can you talk about a favorite memory here? Proudest moment?
    • I’ve only been here for a short time, so I’d like to think I’m still making memories! Check back with me in a few years, and I’ll let you know J
  4. How do you spend your time outside of the office? Any favorite pastimes or family activities?
    • I spend a lot of time during the week relaxing with my husband and my dog, Rambo. On the weekends, I read a lot (I love to read!) and will do yoga from time to time. My friends and I catch up over dinner often, too.
  5. What is one thing you couldn’t live without (& why)?
    • My sister gave me a ring for my birthday several years ago, and it happened to be her birthstone. I’ve always adored her birthstone, and I now cherish the ring.
  6. Tell me a random fact most people don’t know about you.
    • In general, I’m an open book. However, I do love Mandy Moore movies, which most people probably wouldn’t expect [laughs]. I don’t think she’s particularly a great actress, but there’s something about her movies that sucks me right in. My favorite isTangled – Even though it’s an animated move, I absolutely love it.
  7. Do you have a favorite quote or any words you live by?
    • Take deep breaths.” Sometimes I can get so frustrated, and I just have to remember to take deep breaths. It helps me calm down and put things into perspective.
  8. Before working here, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?
    • I babysat a 3-year-old in college. He was too cute and super smart. He could tell you anything about animals, dinosaurs – you name it. Anything you told him, he would remember. It was really cool.
  9. Would you ever want to be famous? If so, for what?
    1. Yeah! Doesn’t everyone? I think it would be cool to discover something new. Something useful.
  10. If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?
    1. Being able to fly intrigues me a lot.