As the zoning and stormwater officer at West Hempfield Township, Dwayne Steager knows a lot about watersheds and the dynamic intricacies of water systems. He’s been with the township for 15 years and not a day goes by that he isn’t drawing upon his watershed knowledge to benefit the township. Everything he does at the township, he says, requires an understanding of stormwater, from zoning and permitting to land development and the Municipal Authority.
Despite his deep knowledge of watershed dynamics, Dwayne wanted to “round out” his knowledge of stormwater issues. That’s why he joined the Lancaster Watershed Leadership Academy. Specifically, he wants to learn how to help others learn about stormwater and water quality issues. “We are all–or should be–on the path to knowledge. We’re at different places on that path but still always climbing,” he says.
Dwayne hopes the Academy, with both watershed and leadership content, will enhance his ability to manage and motivate others to action as well. “Education is truly one of the biggest hurdles in moving towards the goal of clean streams, and not just personal or individual knowledge but also collective knowledge,” he says. “Coordinating and expanding that footprint of knowledge over a wider perspective enables an exponential opportunity to achieve the goal of clean and clear water.”
Dwayne’s already applying what he’s learned to an implementation project through the township. He saw the underutilized, open grass field at Murry Ridge Park, and knew it was an opportunity to implement clean water best practices, educate the public, and provide a beautiful area for residents to recreate.
“The project grew from a concern I had as a public works staff member. I asked myself, why are we putting stormwater runoff directly into the headwaters of a stream?” he says. By treating that runoff, the township could enhance the stream, better use the property, and add educational and recreational opportunities for residents to enjoy. The township partnered with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership, Little Conestoga Creek Watershed Alliance, Lancaster Watershed Leadership Academy, and several property owners to make the project possible.
When Dwayne isn’t working, he enjoys photography, fly-fishing, riding motorcycles, and gardening.
Stay tuned for updates from our scholars as they make their way through the Lancaster Watershed Leadership Academy.
“Coordinating and expanding that footprint of knowledge over a wider perspective enables an exponential opportunity to achieve the goal of clean and clear water.”
– Dwayne Steager