Brian Miller headshot_Project Manager at Bohler Engineering

Getting Stormwater Savvy

Q&A with Project Manager Brian Miller

Stormwater Management. While not the most inspiring part of a development, it is one of the most critical for many sites. This underemphasized project element can impact developable area, project costs and permitting schedules in a significant way.

For those of us working in fast-growing markets, we also know many of these communities are hyper-focused on the

topic based on the influx of construction activity and how it can impact waterways and water quality.

We sat down with Charlotte Project Manager Brian Miller after he attended a refresher training course hosted by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Stormwater Services. In hearing what was on the minds of City and County officials regarding stormwater management regulations and their commitment to clean drinking water, we decided the topic was of value to share with our clients and partners.

What are three factors to consider in the concept stage that can significantly impact stormwater management needs and cost?

Location: Your consultant can evaluate site features, proximity to waterways and watersheds and the impact of overlay zones for things such as redevelopment incentives. The context clues seen by your consultant can drive early estimates on the impact of stormwater.

Best Management Practice (BMP) Expectations: Local and regional requirements drive the option of BMPs that are either required or recommended for any development. In fact, multiple types of BMPs can be required to meet certain local ordinances for particular development types. As stormwater management evolves based on construction demand, so do the requirements.

Drainage Patterns: It’s important to understand the drainage patterns not only for your site, but also offsite water that your property will have to reroute or detain and treat. For instance, if your property is at the bottom of a hill, and the properties upstream are not developed, you’ll still have to account for the upstream properties runoff and ensure proper drainage of your site post-construction.

What drives stormwater management design options and solutions?

It’s a bit like a jigsaw puzzle as managing stormwater takes space, so we want to balance that with its impact to developable area as we understand this is a concern to our clients. Available space drives whether your design goes above or below ground; however, these choices come with financial implications as well. So, comparing cost of using more land vs. cost of designing underground management is something we advise.

Additionally, we see people very focused on upfront cost, with less attention to the anticipated lifecycle of the property or development. Different products and systems offer a range of lifespans and maintenance requirements. One approach may be less expensive on the front end but require more frequent and costly maintenance or operations support over its lifetime. Depending on the real estate, this can be a significant factor.

How is the permitting process affected?

Stormwater permitting can have a longer timeline than other types of permits, so it should be one of the first elements researched when stormwater management is necessary. This is one of the factors, right along with developable area, cost and life cycle, that drives the approach we recommend and the ultimate solutions we execute.

To connect with Brian, click here or check out our Charlotte operations here.