Stormwater Management

What Is Stormwater?

Diagram overlaying the hydrologic cycle and how the process worksIn undeveloped landscapes, rainwater runoff is part of the natural hydrologic cycle. Vegetation, soils, and a wide range of organisms filter, absorb, and use rainfall in their living processes. Evaporation and transpiration takes place, and this completes the cycle. Excess precipitation infiltrates into groundwater and flows into surface waters, recharging aquifers, and supporting aquatic life.

The entire system is affected when the landscape is changed: impervious surfaces (paved streets, parking lots, rooftops, etc.) prevent stormwater from percolating into the ground and cause it to pick up debris, sediments, chemicals, and other pollutants as it moves over the ground.

Why Is Stormwater Management Important?

Stormwater management is essential to prevent erosion of agricultural, developed, and developing areas. Failed stormwater practices, or a lack thereof, can cause severe damages and flooding. Any new development will have some impact on the surrounding environment; the construction of buildings and infrastructure will significantly alter the hydraulic properties of an area. Pervious surfaces, or surfaces that allow stormwater to percolate and infiltrate the ground below, often become less permeable or impermeable and prevent percolation once development takes place.

After the Storm - Environmental Protection Agency 2006

EPA 841-C-06-001 - "After the Storm": co-Produced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and The Weather Channel. The show highlights three case studies where polluted runoff threatens watersheds highly valued for recreation, commercial fisheries and navigation, and drinking water: Santa Monica Bay, the Mississippi River Basin/Gulf of Mexico, and New York City.

Key scientists and water quality experts, and citizens involved in local and national watershed protection efforts provide insight into the problems as well as solutions to today's water quality challenges. After the Storm also explains simple things people can do to protect their local watershed-such as picking up after one's dog, recycling household hazardous wastes, and conserving water. The program is intended for educational and communication purposes in classrooms, conferences, etc.