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City's stormwater manager honored for exceptional service

Mike Hoffman Mike Hoffman

Mike Huffman, stormwater division manager for the city of Hendersonville, was recognized as the 2023 H. Rooney Malcom Award Stormwater Professional of the Year during the annual Stormwater Management Division Conference in Charlotte earlier this month.

The award recognizes individuals who stand out among their peers for exceptional leadership, innovation, agency service and contribution to their profession related to the stormwater field.  Huffman started working for the city of Hendersonville in early 2016 and worked his way into the role of stormwater administrator in 2018 and stormwater division manager last year.

“Mike has become a leader within the organization and in the community when it comes to stormwater,” city Public Services Director Brent Detwiler said. “He often presents very technical information to others in a way that is easily understood and enlightening. You can tell he is passionate about his job, and about teaching people the importance of stormwater management.” 

Huffman has applied for and received grants totaling more than $4 million from the Division of Water Infrastructure, North Carolina Land and Water Fund and the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality 319 Grant Program over the last seven years. The grants have been used to construct green infrastructure throughout the city, including bioretention swales, rainwater cisterns, rain gardens and permeable parking areas. Recently, Huffman received a grant to restore Brooklyn Creek at Sullivan Park, a direct investment in an underserved section of the community, and an opportunity to work with local stakeholders to improve their neighborhood park. Additionally, in February 2023, he was awarded over $3 million in grant funding for a large floodplain restoration/flood mitigation project.  

One of the major contributions to improving water quality in the area has been the implementation of the “Trash Trout,” a device aids in reducing the amount of trash in our waterways and has removed over 10,000 pounds of trash from Mud Creek in Hendersonville. He also manages the City’s rain barrel program and other initiatives like storm drain stamping. Mike also managed the installation of four flood sensors throughout the community, working with others to better track and prepare for weather events. 

In addition to his impressive grant acquisition and project management skills, Huffman has also played a pivotal role in establishing partnerships with various regional agencies and entities. He has worked closely with the North Carolina State University Stormwater Engineering Group, the US Army Corps of Engineers, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, and Henderson County Public Schools to promote water quality education. Mike’s commitment to environmental sustainability has not gone unnoticed, as he was recently honored with the Hendersonville Sustainability Hero Award by the Environmental Sustainability Board, for championing sustainability practices in Hendersonville and the surrounding community. 

Huffman’s dedication extends beyond his professional responsibilities; he consistently engages with residents, business owners, and community organizations through public meetings and community forums. He actively seeks feedback from stakeholders on stormwater issues and concerns, ensuring that the community’s voice is heard and considered in stormwater management decisions. His creation of the ‘Stormwater Stroll’ initiative has proven to be an effective tool in educating the community about stormwater treatment best practices. 

Huffman has made a significant impact on the next generation by mentoring Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts on their projects, resulting in the installation of a rain garden at an elementary school, educational murals along the City’s greenway, a new kayak launch along Mud Creek, and a new Trash Trout Jr. He has also collaborated with organizations such as Asheville Greenworks, Journeymen Asheville, and the Boys & Girls Club of Henderson County, fostering environmental leadership among young people in the region. 

“I couldn’t have done any of this without Brent’s leadership and support, as well as the support of various City departments and staff that support the Stormwater Division," he said. "Additionally, none of these milestones would have been attainable without the support of our City Council and city management team. I am honored to be part of Team Hendersonville.”