Laurens van der Tak shares best practices and examples of collaborative regional stormwater programs with Chicago’s Metropolitan Planning Council. Business cases from U.S. cities demonstrate how collaborative efforts can help cities better manage stormwater outcomes.

By: Laurens van der Tak, CH2M HILL Vice President and Technology Fellow

Laurens van der Tak will be speaking at Chicago’s Metropolitan Planning Council Roundtable on Tuesday, April 8, from 12-1:30 p.m. Other speakers include Susan Harper, Seattle Public Utilities, and Bob Newport, U.S. EPA Region 5.

Have you heard the joke about what happened when stormwater crossed the road?  Well, depending on whether it crossed community or jurisdictional boundaries, it may have been subject to different definitions; tools for identifying levels of risk; and management strategies—upon reaching the other side.

Although regulatory requirements and infrastructure systems typically follow political and departmental borders, storms and precipitation know no boundaries. Consequently, chronic stormwater issues like flooding and compromised water quality can wreak havoc on cities. Fortunately, there are tools that exist to address and help solve challenges created by stormwater.

CH2M HILL is helping clients across the U.S. take a collaborative approach to identifying stormwater solutions. This week, the focus is on Chicago, Illinois, where I will be participating in Chicago’s Metropolitan Planning Council’s “Weather Proof: Collaborative Stormwater Solutions” Roundtable to educate the region on how collaboration efforts can lead to better stormwater management outcomes.

Collaboration efforts may range from sharing best practices and educational materials, data sharing, development and use of common planning tools, to defining a common set of long-term goals for the Chicago waterways and some agreement on the means to achieve those goals.

During the meeting, I will share the benefits and lessons learned from analogous collaboration efforts in Hampton Roads and the Washington, D.C. metro area; in addition to discussing a project the firm worked on with Onondaga County, New York, to help the County meet regulatory requirements at a lower cost by strategically incorporating green infrastructure into their control plan. Finally, a case study with Lancaster, Pennsylvania will highlight how CH2M HILL is helping the City save money by applying the Integrated Planning Framework to comprehensively address regulatory requirements by holistically evaluating Lancaster’s entire wet-weather system (storm, combined, and treatment plant).

Look for updates in the next couple days from attendees participating in this Council meeting to learn more about urban wet weather solutions being implemented across the country.

For 80 years, the Metropolitan Planning Council has made the Chicago region a better place to live and work by partnering with businesses, communities, and governments to address the area’s toughest planning and development challenges.

Laurens van der Tak is a Vice President and Technology Fellow at CH2M HILL in Silver Spring, Maryland. He has more than 25 years of experience on projects involving: hydrologic, hydraulic and water quality monitoring and modeling; stormwater and watershed management; wastewater collection systems; water resource systems; and GIS applications.