By Sydney MaHan, Student Correspondent
This fall, two Virginia Coastal Policy Center (VCPC) students are researching flood and storm water management. They will assist the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation in the development of a Flood Protection Plan and Manual requested by the Virginia General Assembly. The research conducted will include strategies to mitigate flood damage in coastal Virginia.
They will also research wetland and storm water jurisdiction in King William County on the Middle Peninsula. This research will be the initial step in a possible consolidation of storm water management programs between the Department of Environmental Quality, Army Corps of Engineers, and King William County.
Read on to learn more about the students working on these projects.
Connor Garstka has extensive experience working with environmental law. Beginning the summer after his first year at William & Mary Law School, Garstka interned with the Department of Environmental Quality enforcement division, researching case law and orally presenting his findings to a work group.
He says he learned much from the attorneys he worked with: “They took the time to explain how they think about the law and what they’re trying to do; so for me, the passion of these folks convinced me this is what I want to do.”
Since then he has interned in the environmental section of Virginia’s Office of the Attorney General, and Region III of the Environmental Protection Agency. Along with participating in the VCPC this fall, Garstka is interning with the The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, providing research and analysis on the Clean Water Act.
“I hope to become familiar with the state and federal statutes regarding government responses to flood management,” says Garstka.
This semester Garstka will be team lead on creating the Flood Protection Plan and Manual. He will also work with fellow law student Eli Kerby on the Intergovernmental Pilot Project. Kerby and Garstka will be investigating how an Executive Order establishing a mandatory Flood Risk Management Program will affect the Hampton Roads area.
Connor is originally from New Hampshire and obtained his undergraduate degree from Boston College in history. He is in his third year at William & Mary’s Law School, where he writes for the Business Law Review, is a research fellow for the Institute of Bill of Rights Law, co-chair of Constitutional Conversations, and events chair of the American Constitution Society.
Thomas Sandbrink first heard about the VCPC through a lunchtime talk last spring. He was attracted to the practice experiences that VCPC provides.
“I’m mostly hoping to have some background in environmental law, really get experience and make connections,” says Sandbrink.
His decision was further solidified after interning with the Mid- Atlantic Region Legal Service of the United States Navy in Norfolk this past summer.
“It was fantastic,” says Sandbrink. “I was working in their legal assistance office, and it helps sailors with any legal problems they are having, usually pertaining to family law or landlord-tenant issues. So it was really gratifying to get to help.”
As team lead on the wetland and stormwater jurisdiction project which he refers to as the “King William County Road Project”, he is excited to once again be working with a military entity: the Army Corps of Engineers. Sandbrink says he looks forward to delving deeper into the environmental issues each case presents while working towards a solution all involved parties can agree on.
Sandbrink, originally from Missouri, completed his undergraduate studies at Truman State University with a dual degree in history and classics. He is in his second year at William & Mary Law School, where he writes for the Business Law Review, is a graduate research fellow, secretary of the Military and Veterans Law Society, and a member of the Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity.
An extension partner of Virginia Sea Grant, VCPC at William & Mary Law School provides policy and legal analysis to its partners on coastal resource and community issues in its mission to educate and train the future lawyers and leaders of tomorrow.