Technical Resources

This Week in Washington



 Subscribe │ View Archive │  Feedback │ Join the Discussion 

storm events 

WEF Events 

Water Quality Trading Workshops and Webinars 
Nov. 28–29
11 am – 5 pm EST
Washington, D.C.


Member Association Events  

Georgia Association of Water Professionals
2012 Fall Conference & Expo 
Dalton, Ga.
Nov. 13–14
With stormwater presentations 


Virginia Water Environment Assoc.
Stormwater Lunch & Learn 
Nov. 16
11:30 am – 1:30 pm EST
Fairfax, Va.


Michigan Water Environment Assoc.
Watershed Seminar
Dec. 6
Bath, Mich.


Other Events 

International Erosion Control Association
2012 Northeast Conference and Trade Exposition 
Nov. 7–9
Fishkill, N.Y.


APEGBC Stormwater Detention Facility Design 
Nov. 15
Richmond, British Columbia


APEGBC Advanced Stormwater Management and Modeling 
Nov. 22
Kelowna, British Columbia


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
2012 Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Technical Conference 
Dec. 4–6

  Nov. 6, 2012                                                Vol. 2, No. 11  

 storm feature 




Ten Reasons Managing Stormwater Is Different From Wastewater 

By Andrew J. Reese 

A growing number of wastewater agencies are assuming stormwater management responsibilities. For some communities, the growing complexity of stormwater is driving the transition. For others, growing mixed media compliance demands or the failure of other management approaches are the drivers. This trend will only increase.

There are some advantages to placing stormwater within the control of another water-related utility organization, mostly revolving around the organization’s mindset to run its activities as customer-oriented, asset-heavy, public enterprises.

Wastewater organizations face unforeseen issues when taking over stormwater programs, many stemming from the fact that, while stormwater seems similar to wastewater, it is actually very different in significant but unappreciated ways. Read more.


 Storm news 


Submit a Stormwater Abstract for WEFTEC 2013  

/uploadedImages/Access_Water_Knowledge/Stormwater_and_Wet_Weather/Stormwater_Reports/stormdrain(1).jpg Abstracts for WEFTEC® 2013 are due Dec. 3—submit your latest findings, experiences and research on stormwater topics. At WEFTEC 2013, to be held Oct. 5 to 9 in Chicago, the number of stormwater-focused sessions will more than double, compared with WEFTEC 2012. The Water Environment Federation’s annual conference will feature dedicated space for stormwater programming and exhibits — hosting a conference within a conference.


WEF, EPA and WRI Host Free Water Quality Trading Workshops  

pondOn Nov. 28 and 29, from 11 am to 5 pm EST, two back-to-back workshops focusing on water quality trading will be free, open to the public, and accessible online. The first, hosted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is a non-technical workshop to convey perspectives and needs of various parties involved in water quality trading including buyers, sellers, state government, brokers and nongovernmental organizations. The second workshop, sponsored by the Water Environment Federation and World Resources Institute (WRI), focuses on technical water quality trading issues including baselines and additionality; pollution “hot spots” and water quality standards; as well as stormwater and MS4 trading. 

Limited seating will be provided for the workshops at the WRI headquarters in Washington, D.C. EPA will provide additional in-person locations around the country for the first-day workshop. These locations are to be announced. Register.


RESTORE Act Invests in Reviving Gulf Coast Ecosystems  

 storm drainEarlier this summer, President Obama signed into law the RESTORE the Gulf Coast States Act. The law requires 80% of funds resulting from Clean Water Act penalties against the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to be used for environmental and economic restoration of the Gulf Coast. According to Restore the Mississippi River Delta, this investment can be quadrupled in terms of economic benefits and job creation, particularly in infrastructure, restoration, tourism and fishing.

Restoring wetlands and other coastal ecosystems, such as oyster beds and coral reefs, can also provide cost-effective strategies for reducing the risk of flooding and severe storms, according to the 2012 World Risk Report (see Sec. 3.2 on Coastal Habitats and Risk Reduction).


U.S. Forest Service Releases a New Version of i-Tree   

A study released earlier this year by the U.S. Forest Service analyzed 20 cities and found that urban tree cover was decreasing in 17 of them and impervious cover was increasing in 16.

At the beginning of October, the Forest Service and its partners released i-Tree 5.0. This tool is now available on tablets and mobile devices and can be used to analyze tree cover in Australia and Canada, as well as in the U.S. The tool can help planners determine the best species and planting spots. It can also be used to calculate urban tree benefits — from cooling to runoff reduction. According to the Forest Service, urban trees provide as much as $2500 in environmental services, with monetary returns that are three times greater than their maintenance costs. The new version also enables users to collect and enter field data, and another new function forecasts the growth and benefits of trees through time, based on species and location-specific growth models. Read more.


Online Tools Improve Data Sharing  

Mobile applications, online tools, and interactive maps are being used more and more as a useful way to display data in a user- friendly way and, in some cases, even to collect information. Here are some examples of recently released maps and apps. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released an interactive map that is part of the agency’s National Estuary Program (NEP). The NEPmap contains more than 10 years of habitat data. View hundreds of projects by estuary and include data layers, such as water quality, soils, land cover, and population.

EPA also recently released the How’s My Waterway app and website. With a phone, tablet, or computer, users can enter their ZIP code or allow the application to use their current location. Users can select from a list of waterways within 8 km (5 mi) of the search location and obtain the reported condition of the waterbody, impairments, and what is being done to address any pollution. Users can also view a map showing the status of waterways in various colors.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation also released a map that shows climate change impacts on streamflow across 195 sites in the western United States. Data are projected until 2099. Read more.


U.S. NRCS Releases Lessons Learned Report on Improving Water Quality Via Agricultural Conservation Practices  

In the most recent assessment of U.S. waterbodies, agricultural runoff was listed as the leading source of water quality impairment in rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, and reservoirs. In August, the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service released several resources synthesizing lessons learned from 13 agricultural conservation practices aimed at improving water quality.

This project and others that are part of the broader National Institute of Food and Agriculture–Conservation Effects Assessment Project (NIFA-CEAP) examine how types of conservation practices, the timing of activities, and spatial distribution affect their capacity to improve water quality on a watershed scale. The report also touches on social and economic factors that influence adoption and maintenance of conservation practices on private land.

Resources available include a book, How to Build Better Agricultural Conservation Programs To Protect Water Quality, a two-page summary of the book, six fact sheets, and a recorded webcast.


Low Impact Development Symposium Call for Abstracts Is Open  

The call for abstracts for the 2013 Low Impact Development (LID) Symposium is open until Dec. 19. The conference, to be held Aug. 18 to 21 in St. Paul, Minn., is being coordinated by states, universities, and nonprofit organizations. The call for abstracts covers a wide range of LID topics, from cutting-edge research to applications in varying environments to monitoring and maintenance. Read more.


U.S. EPA Announces $3 Million in Grants for Green Infrastructure Performance Studies 

Quantifying the performance and effectiveness of green infrastructure is necessary to determine if this approach can deliver on water quality goals. On Oct. 10, The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced it will provide up to $3 million in grants to study Philadelphia’s green infrastructure projects within a 16,400-ha (40,500-ac) area that has frequent sewer overflows. Research items may include quantifying early benefits, including those to neighborhoods and communities, and long-term effectiveness; evaluating economic viability and alternative financing mechanisms; and successful green infrastructure adoption strategies. Read more.


U.S. Forest Service Awards $3 Million in Grants To Protect Great Lakes 

Last month, The Stormwater Report covered new efforts to protect Great Lakes water quality. On Oct. 11, the U.S. Forest Service awarded $3 million in grants to Great Lakes states, including Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, New York, Illinois, and Indiana. The money, given as part of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, was awarded to projects that will improve water quality by increasing tree canopy and forest cover. Read more about the winning projects.


ACWA Releases Survey on the Use of Biological Indicators To Assess Nutrient Pollution 

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), half of U.S. rivers, lakes, and streams and 60% of bays and estuaries are impaired by nutrients from urban and agricultural runoff and other sources. The Association of Clean Water Administrators (ACWA) recently released a survey on the use of biological indicators in state water programs. The survey shows that while many states use biological criteria, along with nutrient concentrations, to assess whether a waterbody is nutrient-impaired, only a handful use these criteria in their National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits. However, such criteria could offer an alternative to numeric criteria. Florida uses biological assessments as part of its NPDES permit to determine whether facilities are complying with criteria designed to protect aquatic life. Georgia uses biological criteria in its industrial stormwater permit and has developed a nutrient pollution tolerance index for aquatic life. Facilities located within a linear mile (1.6 km) of an impaired stream are required to sample for macroinvertebrates or another biological parameter of concern, chlorophyll a, which can indicate large populations of algae that thrive on nutrients.


 NYC Green Roof Environmental Literacy Laboratory Is Now Ready  

New York City P.S. 41 in Greenwich Village now has the largest green roof on a school in the Big Apple. The 836-m2 (9000-ft2) Green Roof Environmental Literacy Laboratory (GELL) features an outdoor classroom. Students will receive hands-on lessons related to sustainability, environmental stewardship, and urban gardening. The school, located in a dense urban environment, will provide students with green space, and teachers will integrate the roof into science, math, nutrition, and literacy curricula.

In total, GELL cost $1.7 million, including $450,000 for delivery, installation, and the green roof components, which were prevegetated modules. According to a press release, the roof’s green components are expected to reduce stormwater runoff volume and velocity from the roof by 50% to 90%. The green roof’s life expectancy is longer than that of an ordinary roof, and it will sequester carbon, improve the building’s energy efficiency, and reduce dust and smog.


Hinkson Creek in Missouri Shows Signs of Improvement   

Hinkson Creek was the site of an earlier dispute between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and local Missouri government and academic groups over a total maximum daily load (TMDL) requiring stormwater flow reductions. This summer, EPA dropped the flow-based surrogate from the TMDL.

Now, preliminary data are showing that stormwater management actions taken by Columbia and Boone counties are having a positive effect. Earlier this year, 75% of samples taken at Hinkson Creek were fully supportive of aquatic life. In 2005, that percentage was only 62%. Samples were tested for macroinvertebrates and other water quality indicators, such as dissolved oxygen and temperature. Hinkson Creek now nearly meets federal water quality standards, as the TMDL requires that at least 78% of samples fully support aquatic life. Only then will the stream be considered restored.


 Washington State Court of Appeals Finds Clark County in Violation Clean Water Act    

On Sept. 26, the Washington State Court of Appeals ruled that Clark County was not adequately meeting its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. This case was an appeal of an earlier 2011 ruling by the Washington Pollution Control Hearings Board (PCHB).

Under the Washington state permitting system, permitees are required to reduce stormwater runoff from new development to historic levels. A permitee can adopt an alternative stormwater management program as long as it provides equal or greater protection. In an agreement with the Washington State Department of Ecology, the county required developers to mitigate increased flow caused by the development itself. However, the county would reach historic runoff levels by managing stormwater offsite.

In 2011, PCHB ruled that the alternative program did not provide sufficient water quality protection, because the rule unlawfully exempted developments approved before the new stormwater rule took effect — a legal provision known as “vesting.” PCHB also ruled that the program unlawfully failed to require low-impact development at new development sites. Read more.


Norman, Okla., Residential Community Tests Rain Garden Effectiveness   

In the Trail Woods residential community of Norman, Okla., a rain garden experiment is under way. On one side of a cul-de-sac, rain gardens are installed next to the street, and on the other side, grass extends to the curb. The University of Oklahoma will monitor the performance of the rain gardens and compile its findings in a report. The demonstration projects are designed to improve the condition of Lake Thunderbird, Norman’s drinking water source, which is impaired with phosphorus.

The homebuilder, Ideal Homes, designed the rain gardens to look like an ordinary garden amenity and to be aesthetically pleasing. However, they faced several challenges implementing the gardens, including dense, clay soil; working with city officials, since most low-impact development is not coverd by the city code; and working around underground utilities.


Check It Out! 

Post ItA Tampa, Fla., stormwater pump station designed to alleviate neighborhood flooding has been disguised as a house. The fake home will come complete with driveways and porches in the front and back, landscaping, a fence, and even a chimney. The 111-m2 (1200-ft2) “home” will have a bathroom and rooms for electrical equipment and a generator. Insulation will also help keep the pump station quiet.