Chinese Delegation Visit Underscores International Stormwater Management Needs

Nov. 4, 2016
For Immediate Release
Contact: Irene Haske
703-324-5821 or 703-324-5500, TTY 711

Chinese Delegation Visit Underscores International Stormwater Management Needs

An exchange of information and 'lessons learned' between Maintenance and Stormwater Management and visitors from China pointed out the similarities and differences of Fairfax County stormwater management and that of a country more than 7,000 miles away.

It all started with an email to the MSMD mail box from Zoey Zhang of Forte International Exchange Association, which is an organization based in Falls Church that facilitates cultural, professional and governmental exchanges between the United States and China. Ms. Zhang asked if there was an opportunity to arrange a site visit to MSMD and a briefing for the Chinese delegation.

Chinese Delegation Visit Underscores International Stormwater Management Needs
The delegation from China arrived at the Government Center on Oct. 24.

Never known to decline an opportunity to learn or teach about stormwater, several employees of MSMD sprang into action to accommodate the request including Chad Crawford, Val Tucker, Karlee Copeland, Todd Nelson, Michael Allen, Ta-En Huang and Wen Wang, all of MSMD and Charles Smith of the Stormwater Planning Division (SWPD).

The delegation arrived at the Government Center and included 18 officials from the Shandong Province Department of Housing and Urban-Rural Development who were coming to the Washington D.C. area to learn about the U.S. experience in stormwater management. Ms. Zhang also wrote in her request, "They are very interested in learning more about your rainwater harvesting system and how your rainwater harvesting practice works."

Stormwater facility maintenance dominated the presentations, discussions, questions and site visits to the Government Center stream and pond restorations, the Herrity Green Roof and the Stringfellow Park and Ride.

"It was very much a two-way exchange of information," said MSMD Director Chad Crawford. "We learned from them and they learned from us," he said.

"We asked our guests to talk about their stormwater-related experiences in China," said Karlee Copeland, Chief, Stormwater Management Branch, MSMD.

In 2013, the President of China, Mr. Xi Jinping, proposed a campaign named Sponge City. This campaign guides stormwater managers in China in ways to better absorb rain water, 'like a sponge'.

Jinan, the capital of Shandong province, was chosen to be one of 16 cities in China to be included in the pilot project for the Sponge City Campaign. Each year Jinan receives a subsidy of 500 million China Yuan, or the equivalent to 80 million American dollars, from the central government to improve their stormwater system. The goals of the Sponge City project are:

  • No ponding in the streets during moderate rain fall
  • No flooding in heavy rain
  • No black-odor water in rivers and streams
    • i.e., no combined sewer overflow or CSO whereby stormwater and wastewater are conveyed to a wastewater treatment plant, cleaned and later released to a river or other receiving water body. As the name implies, a CSO system may overwhelm a treatment plant during heavy rain and create a sanitary sewer backup into streets and buildings
  • Mitigate the urban heat island effect
  • Absorb and reuse 70 percent of stormwater.
Chinese Delegation Visit Underscores International Stormwater Management Needs
The delegation from China visited the Government Center stream and pond restorations.

The long term goals of the "Sponge City" campaign are to absorb and reuse 70 percent of rain water by the year 2020; and to absorb and reuse 80 percent of rain water by 2030.

"What a fun experience. I learned so much," said Karlee. "I'm looking forward to another opportunity to host in the future."

The PowerPoint presentation made to the visiting delegation included information about regulatory program drivers, stormwater management inventory, maintenance, stream restoration, federal, state and local regulations and public education.

"We talked about our local water impairments and made a comparison between the number of impaired waters in 2004 and in 2012," said Charles Smith, SWPD. "We also presented information about regulations from the federal, state and local level, TMDLs (total maximum daily loads) for the Chesapeake Bay and local streams and how the county has to work to improve water quality as a result of these regulations," Charles said.

Other topics included the George C. Marshall High School rainwater harvesting project, conveyance system reinvestment options, how infiltration practices work, maintenance unit costs, conveyance pre-lining pipe conditions, conveyance system projects and a look at stream and outfall restorations, before and after. The complete presentation is posted to SlideShare.

"It was my great pleasure to participate this event," said Wen Wang, Programmer Analyst, MSMD, who served as one of the translators during the visit. "I've learned a lot, not only about stormwater, but also about your passion and commitment to daily work," Wen said.

For more information, look for Forte International on Facebook and on YouTube.

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