The Stormwater Blog 

Contech Stormwater experts discuss designing stormwater BMP’s, regulations, maintenance issues, and all things stormwater.

What About Plants?
One could argue that plants are the most essential part of biofiltration systems such as bioretention, high performance biofilters, and rain gardens.&...
Seeing the Forest and the Trees in Stormwater Treatment System Monitoring Data
The International Stormwater Best Management Practices (BMP) Database project website (http://bmpdatabase.org) features a database that includes over 600 BMP performance studies.  This is a tremendous free resource for engineers, scientists, policymakers and others who seek to characterize the pollutant removal and hydrologic performance of various stormwater treatment systems. And, like any database, it is only as reliable as the information that goes into it.  To improve reliability, their website also includes monitoring program design guidance and data input tools that allow a standardized format and content for summary reports.  However, whether looking at an individual test of a single treatment system or a database with hundreds of results, it is important to focus not only what the data tells us, but also what stories we may be missing. 
Don’t Bypass Good Design Part 2: Diverting the Flow
In a previous post (Don’t Bypass Good Design Part 1: Offline Vs. Online Diversion Structures), I wrote about bypass structures and argued that they deserved more attention. In this follow-up, we’ll do just that by comparing two different ways to divert flow in a precast manhole. 
Categories: Treatment
What Tools Are in Your Stormwater Toolbox?
Over the last 20 years of site-civil design, it has been interesting to see stormwater trends come and go.  Some design methodologies have disappeared, only to return later or in a nearby geography as the “new” approach.  Agency directives can shift based on new leadership or the prevalent regional concerns at the time.  As the construction industry finds less expensive solutions or improved constructability, they can also lead a shift in regional site design.  Things change—and from many angles.
Don’t Bypass Good Design Part 1: Offline Vs. Online Diversion Structures
Months of design, pages of specifications, and tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars may go into the design of a single bioswale, filtration basin, or other stormwater treatment system. So why do we spend so little time thinking about the flow control devices that make them work? This article is part one of a two-part series on bypass design and focuses on external diversion structures as compared to treatment units with internal bypass capability.
My Relationship with Lab-based Stormwater Treatment Performance Testing

Oh stormwater treatment performance lab testing, your time-consuming, methodical steps make me want to pull my hair out. You often leave me with more questions than answers. However, the benefits often counterbalance the challenges. Thank you for answering my questions, even if I must endure the tedious steps of the scientific method; a method that researchers need to follow to answer questions related to cause and effect. The scientific method proves results are caused by isolating variables and testing in different conditions, to validate or invalidate a hypothesis.

Categories: Testing
Why Isn’t my BMP More Like my iPhone?

When we generate new ideas, how well do we transition from initial innovation to general acceptance and widespread implementation?  One of the critical factors in this process seems to be the availability of support and maintenance services within an industry.  These innovations need to function reliably over time, and as many are too complicated for us to maintain ourselves, we depend on various support mechanisms such as auto mechanics and the helpful geek at the Apple Store to ensure this longevity.

Categories: Maintenance
Manufactured Stormwater Treatment Devices (MTDs) Frustrations, Misperceptions, and Concerns.  Part 2: Crossing the MTD Divide

The initial wave of manufactured treatment devices (MTDs) were generally simpler than options available today.  With few exceptions, early MTDs were comprised predominantly of swirl/vortex and other types of gravity separators that targeted solids and floating pollutants.  State and local stormwater programs were in their infancy and were predominantly focused on reducing suspended solids loads.  Our knowledge of particle size distributions and other common pollutants carried by stormwater paled in comparison to what we know today.  MTD testing protocols were non-existent leaving early MTD providers to devise their own and make their case for acceptance.  Regulators recognizing the need for underground solutions, especially in urban areas, implemented crude MTD performance criteria typically rooted in demonstrating removal of coarse solids in the laboratory.

Manufactured Stormwater Treatment Devices (MTDs) Frustrations, Misperceptions, and Concerns.  Part 1: Frustration is a Two-Way Street
Having spent the last sixteen years immersed in the world of stormwater best management practices (BMPs), with particular emphasis on manufactured treatment devices (MTDs), I’ve repeatedly borne witness to the frustrations, misperceptions, and concerns raised by all walks of stormwater professionals relative to MTDs.  
Categories: Regulations
Limited Parking
This month’s blog post comes from Janice Kaspersen, editor of Stormwater magazine.

Did you drive to work this morning? Was a parking space waiting for you when you arrived? Many cities require developers to provide a minimum number of parking spaces for office, retail, and residential buildings; sometimes the number is based on the square footage of the building, sometimes on occupancy. Many calculate the required number of spaces based on peak demand. 

Categories: Regulations
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