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Celebrating 10 Years of Stormwater Training
June 2011 (volume 6 - issue 5)
Contributed by John Chapman and Bruce Wilson (Department of Biosystems and Bioproducts Engineering, University of Minnesota)
The University of Minnesota Erosion and Stormwater Management Certification Program will be celebrating its 10th year of training in 2012. This program has had more than 15,000 attendees in a variety of training courses and workshops. Currently, more than 5000 practitioners hold one or more certifications in erosion and stormwater management.
Figure 1: Classroom instruction for site management class.
The program was established to provide research-based education through a partnership between the University of Minnesota, Minnesota Department of Transportation, and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. While the program is housed at the University of Minnesota, it receives input on content and direction from its partners through an advisory board. Funding for the program comes primarily from the fees charged for classes, but grants and partnerships are also used to offset program fees when available. This structure has proved very successful in keeping the training sustainable and relevant to the industry needs.
Figure 2: Field exercises and instruction are a large part of the curriculum.
Partners are critically important in providing the instruction to meet the diverse needs of Minnesota. Instructors come from state agencies, such as the Minnesota DOT and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the University of Minnesota, and private industry. The curriculum is based on their combined expertise and represents many years of practical experience on the proper use of best management practices. The diverse background of the instructors is a key contributor to the success of the program.
Figure 3: Industrial stormwater sampling and monitoring class demonstration.
The certification program offered its first classes in 2002 to help train contractors, designers, and regulators on stormwater management. The first classes focused on construction site erosion control and the Minnesota NPDES construction permit. Over the last 10 years the program has continued to offer certification classes in Construction BMP installation, Construction Site Management, and Design of Construction Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans, but has also expanded to offer classes on industrial site stormwater pollution prevention plan design, industrial site monitoring, illicit discharge detection and elimination, regulatory enforcement, design of volume control practices, watershed modeling, and training as part of the Stormwater Assessment and Maintenance Project. In addition, the program has customized training for specific groups and companies to effectively meet their specific needs.
Figure 4: Field instruction for regulatory enforcement class.
Although classes are offered throughout the calendar year, the majority of courses are taught during the winter months, corresponding to fewer construction activities. Classes are offered throughout Minnesota, and have even been taught in Wisconsin and North Dakota.
An important feature of the certification is a test of the participant knowledge given at the end of the courses. A passing exam score results in a certification card which is valid for three years. This provides for easy documentation of training, which is now required by the Minnesota NPDES Construction Permit. After three years, certification is renewed by attending a refresher course, which provides updates in the regulations and technology.
Figure 5: Field installation of erosion control blanket and biolog protection in a stormwater swale.
Many contractors and regulators have commented on the increased awareness of stormwater regulations and on the improved implementation of stormwater management practices over the past 10 years. While these improvements are occurring by the combined efforts of many entities, including cities, state agencies, and non-profits, the University of Minnesota Erosion and Stormwater Management Certification Program has contributed in protecting and improving the quality of water in Minnesota. The program looks forward to continuing its role in providing basic training for field practitioners as well as communicating recent advances made in managing stormwater.
More information on the University of Minnesota Erosion and Stormwater Management Certification Program and registration for classes can be found at www.erosion.umn.edu or 612-625-9733.
We want to hear from you!!!
Let us know your thoughts, experiences, and questions by posting a comment. To get you thinking, here are a few questions:
- Would you benefit from Erosion and Stormwater Management Certification Classes in your area?
- What additional classes could we establish to help you?
- What are your stormwater knowledge needs?
- What do you need to know about stormwater?