Stormwater – One of Our Greatest Overlooked Assets, with Christian Hennessy from Oldcastle Infrastructure

Episode 020: “My passion for stormwater really stems from my love of the outdoors. I’m an avid hiker and outdoorsman, and I desire to be a steward of that environment.” You can definitely hear Christian Hennessy’s passion for stormwater and environmental stewardship in his conversation with host, Ty Garmon, in this episode. Christian gives a little stormwater 101 where he explains the 4 aspects of stormwater design: directing, storing, cleaning, and transporting. Different sites and geographical areas have different complexities for these components. 

“The whole impetus of stormwater is to try to take a built environment and make it act like the pre-developed conditions,” Christian explains. This is more than just the amount of water being released. It encompasses directing water to protect the natural environment and other built infrastructure to get it to the detention facility, infiltration for groundwater recharge, cleaning the contaminates it has picked up along the way, and, in some instances, transporting the water from areas of abundance to areas with significant drought conditions. Christians says “It’s all part of the beautiful puzzle of stormwater.”

“The most important needs and challenges for the stormwater industry specifically include storing, cleaning and treating the water,” Christian continues. In urban areas where there is a lack of available land area, you need creative solutions to store the runoff until it can be released. This may be under building foundations or parking lots, so then it becomes important to ensure the structural integrity of the infrastructure above the storage. The water also needs to be conveyed for reuse potentially for irrigation, toilet flushing, or other uses. Before it can be used, however, it needs to be treated. Detention aids is cleaning by allowing sediment to settle out. Then other BMPs are used to help further clean the water. “We’re seeing a push for improvement in the contaminants that these devices can remove and the overall efficiency they achieved. Most systems on the market are really good at TSS and hydrocarbons but we’re seeing a need and demand for emerging pollutants like nitrogen, PFAS, 6PPD quinone,” Christian explains. “It is hard to get people to change, but I think as awareness increases around what stormwater is, and how it ultimately impacts everybody, whether or not they have the direct line of sight to see it, that’s gonna push policy.”

“We’re looking to innovate and improve our treatment technologies.” Christian explains 3 ways this is occuring in the stormwater industry and inside Oldcastle. First is the ongoing effort to create national standards for stormwater BMPs, STEPP. This will give users and designers a true way to compare devices before they are purchased and installed. The first standard is for Trash Capture and should be published by June 2024. Next is the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) passed 4Q2021. This provides funding for a wide array of new and already identified infrastructure projects. And finally, Oldcastle has established an Innovation Fund with $250 million set aside for developing new technologies and are partnering with companies and researchers to develop the next generation of advanced sustainable building products. “Stormwater really is the first line of defense in protecting our environment.”

Quotes:

  • “My passion for stormwater really stems from my love of the outdoors. I’m an avid hiker and outdoorsman, and I desire to be a steward of that environment.” (01:15 | Christian)
  • “The whole impetus of stormwater is to try to take a built environment and make it act like the pre-developed conditions,” (4:32 | Christian) 
  • “We just need to be smarter about how we are managing stormwater and looking at it as a resource, which it is, instead of just getting rid of it (27:30 | Christian)
  • “Stormwater is very dirty. You know, I don’t think people really think about how much pollution is really carried away in stormwater” (27:30 | Christian)

The views expressed are that of the individual and do not represent the opinions of any companies past, present or future.

Check out these links Christian mentioned during the Pod:

STEPP initiative: http://nationalstormwateralliance.org/stepp/

Oldcastle Innovation Fund: https://www.crh.com/media/press-releases/2022/crh-establishes-new-venture-capital-unit

Deciphering the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act: https://oldcastleinfrastructure.com/insights/deciphering-the-infrastructure-investment-and-jobs-act-iija/

Connect with Christian Hennessy:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/christian-hennessy-38085952/

christian.hennessy@oldcastle.com

Connect with Ty Garmon, LEED AP

Connect with Ty on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tygarmon/

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