Reader Profile: Tony Victor

Sw1906 34

Behind the Twitter handle #TOMStormwater is the mission statement “Just some good ol’ people trying to keep our #stormwater clean. We educate and try to be funny. When it comes down to it, stormwater is the star.”

The person writing those posts—many of which include video and photos and sometimes a bit of humor like his stormwater “nerd alerts”—is Tony Victor, an environmental specialist in the Morrisville, NC, Stormwater Division. The town, located within the Research Triangle area of North Carolina, has a population of more than 26,000. In 2016, the town completed a multiphase assessment of its Jordan Lake watershed and Neuse River Basin, examining existing conditions of all streams and stormwater outfalls and identifying potential restoration opportunities for streams, riparian buffers, outfalls, and stormwater control measures. One of Victor’s many responsibilities is serving as the lead staff member for public education and outreach via educational booths, lectures, and workshops. “Because most of the infrastructure is out of sight, many people don’t think about the impact stormwater has on our waterways,” he points out. “I can’t tell you how many times I have heard when doing public education, ‘I never really think about stormwater.’”

What He Does Day to Day
As the town’s environmental specialist in the Stormwater Division, Victor spends his time addressing the many aspects of ensuring the municipality addresses the six minimum control measures of its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Phase II permit. “The majority of my time is spent in the field inspecting stormwater control measures [SCMs], dry-weather flow monitoring, illicit discharge detection and elimination, performing stream determinations for buffer rules, and investigating drainage complaints by residents,” notes Victor. “I also have my fair share of meetings and desk work such as writing reports, communicating with property owners and contractors regarding SCM repairs, and coordinating public involvement events like drain marking or stream cleanings.”

What Led Him to This Line of Work
Victor’s personal connection to water, which led him to a professional connection with it, was rooted in his childhood. “My dad took me fishing when I was little. I was hooked—pun intended—and never looked back,” he says. “I grew up near the Missouri River and went on canoe trips with my Boy Scout troop on the Current and Gasconade rivers.” Victor earned a B.S. in psychology at Missouri State University and a M.A. in student affairs in higher education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. “But I found my way back to the water with a stormwater management company about six and a half years ago,” he says. “That was when I realized I had returned to the passion I had strayed from as a youth. I was given the opportunity to take the Stormwater BMP Inspection and Maintenance Certification offered by North Carolina State University, and it led me to Morrisville.”

What He Likes Best about His Work
The best part of his job is getting to be outside for a significant amount of time, says Victor. “I also get to teach people about how to keep our water clean and help them understand how our stormwater conveyance works.”

His Greatest Challenge
Improving water quality is Victor’s biggest challenge, and it all goes back to people not giving much thought to stormwater as it’s “out of sight, out of mind,” he says. “After one of the trainings for some of our town staff, one person came up to me and told me back in the 1970s, his dad used to pull their car over a storm drain when changing the oil. He would unscrew the oil pan drain plug and just let the oil flow into the storm drain. I would think this was a direct result of someone not knowing where that storm drain led, because the majority of people I talk to don’t know our storm sewers and sanitary sewers are different networks. Many believe the storm drains lead to a treatment facility just like the sanitary sewers. So helping people understand the importance of stormwater and that it impacts every person on the planet is the greatest challenge I face.”

More in Home