Since our County staff had a hard time digesting the thousands of pages of information submitted as BAS, we hired Dr. Paul Adamus to "synthesize" it. Billed as a professor from Oregon State University, in reality he is a "courtesy appointment" which is a term of art for someone with only the loosest of affiliations to the university ... so loose he's never been paid by the university for being a professor, has no research responsibilities, and has never taught a class. That's loose.
That's not the only thing that's loose. In his resume, Dr. Adamus lists pages and pages of "publications," but many of these are simply client deliverables, not academic publications in peer-reviewed journals. "Wetlands Ordinance, Inventory, and Access Analysis. Town of Kennebunk, Maine" is a typical example.
Dr. Adamus is our County's go-to guy for CAO science. Have a question about wetlands? Let's ask Dr. Adamus. Pollution? Let's ask Dr. Adamus. Risk? Yep, you got it, let's ask Dr. Adamus. Whatever Dr. Adamus says, it must be true. That's the attitude of County staff and the Council.
This is how we ended up with a stormwater flow methdology, the Rational Method, as the basis for our "site specific approach" for wetland buffers. Conceptualized by Shireene Hale, this approach was adopted by Dr. Adamus who perfected it into our buffer calculator. Hale and Adamus both believe it is a predictor of general pollution, even though that it isn't. It estimates stormwater volume.
Another novel and innovative approach taken by the team of Hale and Adamus (and vigorously supported by Janet Alderton of the Friends) is the notion that native vegetation is better at pollutant removal than other types of vegetation. The origin for this claim comes from the TR-55 manual, which like the Rational Method, has nothing to do with pollutant concentrations. It is a technical document about stormwater volume. One of the tables in TR-55 suggests that lawns with bare spots have higher runoff volume than lawns without bare spots. In other words, it shows that bare earth isn't very good at controlling runoff, so the more bare earth there is, the higher the runoff.
Nevertheless, that basic fact (bare earth equals higher runoff) was transmogrified by the technical committee on buffers into something entirely different. Somehow that initial fact about runoff volume was innovatively interpreted to mean that lawns are not as good as other vegetation at controlling pollution. Then, that was further "interpreted" to arrive at the result that native vegetation is best overall. Once there, only a bit more innovation was needed to conclude that buffers must consist of only undisturbed native vegetation.
All that from a table entry in a technical manual that suggests only that we might expect higher runoff from a patchy lawn versus an un-patchy one, and despite the salient fact that, in reality, grasses are some of the best types of vegetation for attenuating particular types of constituents, especially nitrogen.
Of course, if the Council has any questions about the validity or the applicability of the conclusions drawn from BAS, they can always consult with a scientist. Who would they ask? Oh, that's right, they would ask Dr. Adamus.
Asking Dr. Adamus if the methods he and Shireene cobbled together are valid and applicable is a bit like asking Dr. Frankenstein if his monster is pretty, don't you think?