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Novatech 98 Stresses Innovation

Ben Urbonas, P. E.

I had the honor of serving on the scientific committee charged with selecting the papers for Novatech 98, held May, 1998 in Lyon, France. It was my pleasure to participate in this major international meeting of engineers and other professional working the urban stormwater management field. As the name implies, its purpose was to exchange information on new and emerging technologies.

Over 130 papers were supplemented by poster displays and a technical exposition by French and other European firms. The conference ended with a superb technical tour of stormwater quantity and quality management facilities in the Lyon metropolitan area, some of which were excellent examples of multiple uses and innovation.

The program stressed techniques for "sustainable development." Much of this is driven by Europe's dense population, where any new land development now has a significant impact on land, energy, air and water resources. Many Europeans now believe that sustainability is not just a buzzword, but that it is needed for the preservation of lifestyle quality. We in United States can learn form international exchanges of information and technology that conferences like Novatech 98 provide.

The stormwater management profession in United States is pretty much self-contained. This is because we live in a big and populous country and have done much technical development on our own. In fact, much of our past innovation has been recognized by Europe, Australia, and other countries and our earliest ideas have been embraced by their professionals. For example, copies of the District's Urban Storm Drainage Criteria Manual can be found in many countries around the world. However, we can no longer claim a monopoly on leadership in this field. While we have been busy developing our own technology and exchanging ideas amongst ourselves in United States, and some of them are quite innovative, stormwater professionals in other countries are making great advances. Because of my attendance at Novatech 98, I was able to bring back some ideas that we may be able to incorporate into the revised Volume 3 of the USDCM.

District Wins Accounting Award

For the tenth year in a row the District has received a "Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting" from the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada. The certificate is presented to government units whose comprehensive annual financial reports achieve the highest standards in government accounting and financial reporting.

Congratulations to Frank Dobbins, Chief of Finance and Accounting, for continuing this string of awards.

EPA Offers Grants

The District, along with Wright Water Engineers and URS Woodward Clyde, is a participant in an American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) project funded by a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant. The project is developing Best Management Practice (BMP) data base software and is attempting to assemble BMP evaluation data collected throughout the United States. EPA is offering; through ASCE grants to local jurisdictions, states, and other non-profits; to transfer BMP field evaluation data into a national database. These grants are expected to range from $3,000 to $15,000, with a duration of 3-12 months. Funds will be awarded to reimburse organizations to enter these data and the associated BMP design information into a national database. The long-term goal is to improve the technical design of BMPs and to better match their selection and design to local stormwater problems.

If you have BMP field evaluation data and are willing to help with the development of better design tools we encourage you to apply for a grant. Request an application packet from Ms. Megan Prosser at ASCE by phone at (703) 295-6157, by fax at (703) 259-6138, by e-mail at mprosser@asce.org, or by mail at ASCE, 1801 Alexander Bell Drive, Reston, VA 20191-4400.


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