In Support of Science: One Employee’s Appreciation for a Sustained Commitment to Taking the High Road

At first glance, singing the praises of one’s own employer might seem a bit self-serving, but as a dedicated environmental professional, I do feel the story is worth telling.  I don’t have to work here after all, but Contech’s sustained commitment to developing effective stormwater control measures (SCMs), advancing stormwater science, and advocating for robust stormwater policy has kept me motivated to keep at it for 22 years and counting.  Contech maintains state of the art research laboratories, has completed dozens of long-term field monitoring studies, and employs a team of scientists and engineers that have collectively amassed unrivaled expertise in research and development, lab and field monitoring, and stormwater policy.  Simply put, Contech has always remained committed to developing effective SCMs, demonstrating their effectiveness through robust lab and field testing, and supporting policy development that raises the bar on stormwater quality and SCM performance verification.  

When I started in stormwater, we didn’t have well established industry monitoring protocols in place, but Contech saw the value of investing in full scale testing to verify performance.  When early SCM verification programs began to take shape such as Maine and New Jersey’s early laboratory protocols for hydrodynamic separators, Contech was there to say yes to testing, and to lend our time and expertise to building a robust verification process.  The same can be said of the field, having participated in early studies under the Technology Acceptance Reciprocity Partnership (TARP), Technology Acceptance Protocol-Ecology1 (TAPE) and USEPA’s Environmental Technology Verification (ETV) protocols.  To be frank, there are very few monitoring or verification programs we haven’t participated in.   Similarly, be it EWRI2, ASTM3, SWEMA4, ITRC5, NMSA6 or STEPP7, there are not many stormwater centric organizations or committees we haven’t been willing to devote time too.  Doing so, for me at least, has made this feel like we are all part of a larger stormwater team working collectively to move the ball ever closer to fishable and swimmable.

As we move forward into what feels like a new era with increasingly complex stormwater quality and SCM performance verification criteria, Contech remains as committed as ever.  Of note, Contech’s lab/field testing and policy experts are directly involved in national efforts like ASTM’s new stormwater committee E64.  Many of the standards currently under development by E64 are based on New Jersey DEP’s8 laboratory protocols and the Washington Dept. of Ecology’s (Ecology) TAPE field protocol, widely considered the gold standards for lab and field testing respectively.   The intent is for the ASTM standards to serve as the foundation of the forthcoming national SCM verification program known as STEPP.  Contech is also directly supporting and participating in the launch of the STEPP program, and after years of hard work by numerous individuals it’s hard not to be excited as the program gets close to fruition!  

Recognizing that it takes a village, Contech recently renewed its support for the Center for Watershed Protection9 (CWP) via their membership program.  In addition to supporting the important water quality work CWP is doing, membership also provides ample opportunities to educate our staff as well as to collaborate with other stormwater professionals.  Similarly, Contech is also a member of the Villanova Urban Stormwater Partnership10 (VUSP).  Being a part of VUSP provides direct support for cutting edge stormwater research, educational opportunities, and the ability to collaborate with other VUSP partners to identify future stormwater research needs.  

Consciously staying on the high road hasn’t always been the fastest, cheapest, or easiest option, but Contech has certainly earned my respect for the unwavering commitment to doing so!