Glenn Telfer

Glenn Telfer is a civil engineer with over 24 years of experience, including the fields of stormwater and sustainable design. In addition to his work at Draper Aden Associates, Glenn is involved with several non-profits, including the Virginia Sustainable Building Network (VSBN), James River Association (JRA), and the James River Green Building Council (JRGBC). Glenn also is an experimenter with new stormwater systems at his home including cisterns and small scale rain gardens. Glenn is a frequent presenter on the subject of sustainability in the Richmond area.

Chesapeake Bay Cleanup to be About Collaboration and Accountability

Mark Warner Rob WittmanThe cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay is a huge multi-state effort that will span decades, making it perhaps the largest environmental restoration project in US history. Senator Mark Warner and Representative Robert Wittman have introduced the Chesapeake Bay Accountability and Recovery Act of 2013 (HR 739) to make the process more accountable at the federal level. Some of you may remember similar measures proposed in 2009 and 2011.

If passed, this will require the EPA to develop a management plan for the Chesapeake Bay Program and restoration activities related to the bay. EPA would be required to update the management plan every two years. The legislation would require new financial reports on the Chesapeake Bay Program from the Office of Management and Budget and would require EPA to appoint an independent evaluator, who would review and report to the Congress on the plan.

Read more about the proposed legislation that hopes to drive and document progress being made by states, localities and the private secotr working towards teh goal of Chesapeake Bay cleanup.


, , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Depaving to Mitigate Stormwater Runoff

Depaving PortlandIn the engineering and municipal communities, we spend a lot of effort to treat proposed impervious surfaces, and now with the Chesapeake Bay TMDL, we will spend even more effort trying to find ways to treat existing impervious areas. Let’s not lose sight of the easiest way to improve stormwater quality; reduce pavement. In the new projects we design we need to cast a critical eye on pavement to make sure that it is needed and serves a purpose. This applies to road and sidewalk widths, parking stall sizes and circulation, and those small areas that are easier to pave than to do anything else with. We need to get this message out: that every square foot of impervious has an impact that needs to be mitigated.

This article from teh Christian Science Monitor tells how one non-profit group in Orgeon is making an impact by removing unnecessary pavement from urban areas and creating new grenn spaces that enhance communities and improve stormwater management.

, , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Report Details Strategies for Stormwater Improvements in James River Watershed

Stormwater Retrofit ()Henrico County, Virginia)

Stormwater Retrofit ()Henrico County, Virginia)

Now that the MS4 General Permit has been approved by the Board of Conservation & Recreation, the future is rapidly becoming now. Now is the time to determine compliance costs to budget the necessary funds. The report from the James River Association and the Center for Watershed Protection provides much useful cost information, hopefully the start of a continuing sharing of information.

The report ranks treatment methods by cost effectiveness, with urban stream restoration ranked as the most cost effective. Though cost effective, stream restoration projects cannot be small projects. Upstream and downstream conditions affect hydraulically stablity, so it is difficult to restore short stream sections. There should still be room for smaller projects, such as parking lot retrofits. The James River Association has championed such projects through their Extereme Stream Makeover programs. Below is a photograph of one such retrofit in Henrico County, a bioretention area in a parking lot island. This project was constructed with donated materials and volunteer labor, so costs were relatively low. The project is highly visible to the public which helps build program support. A good MS4 program will come from a balanced approach. Read more about the development of the report in this Richmond Times-Dispatch article:

Download the full report here.

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Making a Difference in Your Own Front Yard

This article is an important reminder that when all of us do something small, it adds up to something big. I live in Richmond’s Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) area. One small thing I have done is to disconnect our downspouts from the sewer system. Before, the rain ran directly into the sanitary sewer every time it rained. Now (see photo), the the water from our downspout soaks into the ground and helps the flowers in our front yard make it through our long hot summer.

Telfer Downspout

Rainfall from the Telfer rooftop has been redirected to provide irrigation for a flower garden in the front yard (Look for blooming photos later in the spring.)

, , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Urban Stormwater Runoff – It Is a Concern Even During Election Season

First order of business for today: Vote. Voting is our collective civic duty and responsibility.

Chimborazo Elementary School Rain Garden

Bacon’s Rebellion is a one of Virginia’s leading politically non-aligned portal for news, opinions and analysis about state, regional and local public policy, so some might find it surprising that over the weekend – just days before a national election in which Virginia could play a critical role in who occupies the White House – readers would learn more about a small rain garden installed by the City of Richmond earlier this summer at Chimborazo Elementary School. Truth is, the City of Richmond has probably been receiving  more negative publicity for it stormwater program as of late than it has for the improvements that the program was created to fund. Recent articles in the Richmond Times-Dispatch and other media have stated that collections for the City’s stormwater utility fee have been poor with the City owed $6.8 million in uncollected stormwater fees because many have been unable or unwilling to pay.

Stormwater or “non-point source pollution” is so ubiquitous that it’s the hardest to tackle, says Chuck Epes, assistant director of media relations with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. “It’s your back yard, my front yard. … It costs a lot of money to retrofit. … But if we don’t get a handle on stormwater runoff, it will overwhelm the improvements we’ve made on other fronts.” The state has seen big gains with its investment in sewage treatment plants, but  more funding is needed to address the stormwater challenge.

Read more about how the City of Richmond is doing more to clean up the James River than it had four years ago through a number of privately and publicly-funded initiatives and grassroots programs.

, , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Low Impact Design Examples on Display at Science Museum of Richmond

Bioretention Area

As design professionals, many of us feel uneasy about the lack of data documenting stormwater BMPs performance. The data that is available shows a wide range of treatment efficiencies for the same types of BMPs and lacks completeness in documenting how design parameters, maintenance, and other conditions can affect performance. So it’s great to see that the Science Museum of Virginia, in cooperation with Virginia Tech and the City of Richmond, is pursuing several projects to expand the base of stormwater BMP knowledge.

The Science Museum has installed the following:

• two tree box filters
• a bioretention area
• a cistern
• an area of permeable concrete
• vegetated green roof

Tree Box Filter

These systems are equipped with instrumentation, including flow weirs and samplers to collect data. The projects are currently collecting data. If you are in the Richmond area, please visit the Science Museum and see these BMPs. Also, the Science Museum is planning an exhibit on stormwater runoff that should open in the near future.

Additiona inforamtion about this project can be found at Virginia Tech’s Center for Watershed Studies Research page:

For further information please contact:
David Sample at Virginia Tech (
Eugene Maurakis at the SMV ( or
Todd Janeski of DCR (

, , , , , , ,

1 Comment

Cities in Virginia Under Review of EPA Inspectors

Cities in Virginia including Lynchburg who have been working on strategies to stay in compliance with current regulations as well as positioning and planning for future stormwater quality requirements are being inspected by representatives of the United States Environmental Protection Agency under the MS4 program.

Previously, EPA inspectors have levied fines from $77,000 to $165,000 on cities who were in violation.  Lynchburg is currently in the process of initiating a new stormwater fee in order to respond to tougher federal and state water quality standards to clean up the Chesapeake Bay. Once these new standards are outlined, it is likely that additional stormwater management programs and enhanced designs will need to be implemented. City officials are also working to find ways to minimize the future cost increases that will occur as stormwater standards become more rigorous.

Read the News & Advance article here:

Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: