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Gaining New Insights: Reflecting on the 2019 INAFSM Conference

Posted by Michaela Lock on Tuesday, September 17, 2019 @ 10:00 AM

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The 2019 Indiana Association for Floodplain and Stormwater Management (INAFSM) Annual Conference was held in Fort Wayne September 4 - 6 with the theme “H20 Tech" featuring many vendors and presentations focused on emerging stormwater technologies. I attended this conference for the first time and, as an environmental scientist at the beginning of my career, my experience was filled with new insights.

One of the later sessions I attended was presented by Al Walus, titled A Successful MS4 Mindset: Resource vs. Requirement. As I was listening to the idea of viewing the MS4 program as a community resource — and not just a checklist of requirements — I could see all the sessions I had previously attended begin to come together and form a connection. We are here to improve water quality, and, in doing so, we are acting as a resource for our community. By improving water quality and protecting our waterways, we improve quality of life and boost economic development in the communities in which we work.

But how do we achieve these goals effectively? Answer: by employing the innovative techniques and products available to us. The vendors and experts at the conference present the information, but we, the attendees of the conference, are the ones who choose to put that knowledge to use in our communities.

So, what if we implement the practices we learned at this conference? What if we think about these technologies not as another expense or requirement, but as a community resource and investment in our future? How would our communities change and improve?

Headed into the conference I was ready to meet new people and learn more about stormwater and floodplain management. What I wasn’t expecting was to walk away from these sessions feeling as if someone had pulled back the curtain. We all get caught up in the “daily grind," where we are focused on meeting requirements and hitting deadlines. This conference served as a reminder that the work we are doing every day has a major impact in the world. It was an opportunity to see how far the industry has come and how much further we can go in the years to come.

My insights:

  • Our urban areas can work for us, instead of against us.
  • Green infrastructure is the future of stormwater and floodplain management.
  • Context is key, there is no “one size fits all” in stormwater or floodplain management.
  • Mindset is important; it can take programs and communities to the next level.

Tags: sustainable solutions, civil engineering, Wessler, INAFSM, Environmental Services

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