The Business of Stormwater Compliance


New conference aims to solve challenges, quell fears amid regulatory changes.

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New conference aims to solve challenges, quell fears amid regulatory changes.

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To the casual observer, a chain-link fence is unremarkable at best. To stormwater consultant Ross Dunning, everyday galvanized fencing — noted for its gray zinc coating — is central to understanding how Oregon industries can reduce the concentration of pollutants flowing into streams, rivers and lakes.

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Attendees of the inaugural
Managing Stormwater in Oregon
will include:

• Industrial compliance managers
• Property managers
• City, county, state regulatory
and compliance staff
• Environmental engineers,
consultants, attorneys and
other service providers
• Product manufacturers and vendors

Since the 1970s federal efforts to limit direct water pollution from manufacturing facilities have largely proven successful, explains Dunning, who leads the northwest stormwater practice for Kennedy/Jenks Consultants.

Three years ago, Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) turned its attention to the more dispersed sources of pollution on industrial sites. In a substantial tightening of regulations, the state lowered stormwater pollutant benchmarks for zinc and copper — two heavy metals found to be especially harmful to aquatic life.

Which brings Dunning back to the topic of chain-link fencing. The zinc coating shielding it from rust is also used as a protectant on light poles, metal roofing and gutters. It’s present in tires, oils and many other materials common at industrial sites. When zinc meets water during rain and snow, it gradually dissolves, funneling the heavy metal into local receiving waters. Copper is a problem in much the same way. It’s found in brake pads and is common to industrial parking lots with heavy truck traffic, and other traffic intensive activities.

“There is no book to follow, really,” said Dunning, speaking to the difficulties of understanding where non-point sources of pollutants come from, and how to achieve compliance. “There are stormwater management manuals around, but in my experience, particularly at industrial facilities, the solutions laid out in these manuals aren’t good enough to meet the discharge limits. Industrial folks have other jobs to do, so they usually need to find someone who knows what they’re doing to help.”

To help bring clarity to issues of stormwater compliance from a business perspective, the Northwest Environmental Business Council (NEBC) is bringing its long-running Washington stormwater conference to Oregon. Managing Stormwater in Oregon debuts May 21, bringing together regulated companies, solution providers and government agencies to explore best practices and cost-effective solutions. DEQ director Dick Pedersen is the keynote speaker.

“There’s confusion over what the deadlines are, what the requirements are. Even, ‘What approach do I take to reduce my stormwater pollution?’” said Erich Brandstetter, a permit program specialist with DEQ. “This conference presents an opportunity to see what’s worked for others, what hasn’t worked and how to effectively address the issues in a cost-effective way.”

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NEBC executive director Robert Grott says attendees will come away with a clearer understanding of regulatory policies and requirements, along with a range of control strategies they can employ to reach compliance and avoid enforcement actions and citizen lawsuits.

“We’re excited to bring this event to Oregon” Grott said, “and frankly we’re doing it in response to requests from our stakeholders,” noting that the event caters to all knowledge levels.

In addition to the educational sessions, a trade show will host the region’s top stormwater solutions providers, offering a range of strategies for solving stormwater management problems.

“The people that come to this conference are a who’s who in the stormwater business,” says Dunning. “They’re people like me that live this every single day.” n

Visit for more information and to register.