To understand what stormwater management is, we first need to find out what stormwater is. Stormwater is basically the excess water that builds up after a storm or other precipitation event. Heavy rain or snowfall can also result in stormwater. When you’re out driving after it has been raining heavily for days and you encounter a road that has water all over it, you’re encountering stormwater.
Thus, it’s accurate to state that stormwater is excess water that appears in both urban and rural areas after the occurrence of weather events involving large measurements of rainfall. The processes that government uses to combat the effects of this excess water then, is known as stormwater management.
The Importance of Stormwater Management
Stormwater management is necessary to help remedy a number of issues including soggy soil and standing water. Ideally, a stormwater management plan should be devised and implemented before significant construction takes place. Otherwise, drainage problems can create both financial and physical repercussions after heavy rainfall.
Stormwater that isn’t managed effectively can have detrimental effects on the environment. In urban areas, there are many impervious surfaces such as pavements and driveways. In fact, even the roof of your house contributes to the pathway of stormwater, because your roof interferes with the natural pathway of the water. Instead of being naturally absorbed into the ground, stormwater in urban areas tends to run into storm drains, sewer systems, and drainage ditches.
While these mechanisms are intended for the drainage of stormwater, this does not mean that no problems can occur. When stormwater flows into one of these man-made crevices, it can cause a variety of environmental issues including downstream flooding, stream bank erosion, habitat destruction, and infrastructure damage.
Effective stormwater management includes an awareness of how water cycles can impact the environment. Green infrastructure is a term that describes approaches to managing stormwater that ensure natural water levels and composition are kept intact. Green infrastructure technologies include infiltration and recycling methods.
Stormwater can technically cause pollution because when it runs along pavements and other impervious surfaces, it often picks up contaminants. Everyday human activities can result in the deposit of such contaminants on roads. For example, just think of all the chemicals you use when you take a trip to the local car wash. On a regular day the residue will dry up before it even reaches the storm drain, but during heavy rainfall these chemicals make their way into the storm drain. This means that they are transported to the nearest natural water source, thereby causing water pollution.
Another key component of stormwater pollution is the impact runoff water has on sanitation. This is most common in rural areas. During or after a storm, sewer systems become overworked, and it is a common occurrence for homeowners in rural areas to have severe sanitation problems. During a hurricane with elements of a tropical storm, for example, residential sewage systems that aren’t hooked up to a main line are particularly vulnerable to overflow caused by stormwater.
Stormwater Management Techniques
Did you know that stormwater is listed as one of the leading sources of water pollution? Because of this, it’s important to implement stormwater management techniques. These techniques can be implemented even in the most urban environments. As a general rule, the less greenery there is, the more of a problem stormwater will be.
Tall commercial buildings in the center of a town or city don’t have to be excluded from a management procedure. Such buildings can introduce techniques such as green roofs. A green roof is when a waterproof membrane and vegetation are added to the standard roof of a building in order to improve the drainage. The building in question needs to be able to sustain the weight of the extra materials.
If water needs to be diverted from one place to another, the device doesn’t have to be an eyesore. Stormwater art is when a mechanism that diverts runoff is made to be aesthetically pleasing, or like a piece of art. Thus, it adds curb appeal to buildings and is highly functional at the same time.
In urban areas, stormwater is a big problem because the natural environment has been replaced with man-made buildings and structures. As such, infiltration planters are a technique that can be used to manage excess stormwater. Infiltration planters are an innovative way of introducing nature back into culture. These planters not only make commercial buildings look more attractive; they also have a specific function. During a storm, they collect the excess water and then release it into the soil by infiltration.