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We’ve all heard the expression “can’t see the forest for the trees,” but when’s the last time you can remember it applying to yourself?  As a stormwater engineer, I’ve spent 15 years focusing on the design of natural systems and manufactured devices that treat and/or infiltrate post-construction runoff, and there is ample opportunity to get lost in

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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

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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

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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

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Read Part 1: Frustration is a Two-Way Street 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

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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.  They’re too complicated, you

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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

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Hydrodynamic Separators (HDS) have been used in the stormwater industry for over 20 years.  They are effective at removing TSS, hydrocarbons, and trash and debris from stormwater runoff and are often used for standalone treatment or pretreatment to filtration, detention, infiltration and rainwater harvesting system.  With the varied applications

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EPA selected a removal standard of 80% total suspended solids (TSS) removal as the target pollutant of concern due to high TSS concentrations ubiquitous impact on water quality and degradation to aquatic habitat. Many other pollutants of concern are particle-bound, and TSS is thereby a surrogate for other pollutants. Testing methodologies for

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The EPA selected a removal standard of 80% total suspended solids (TSS) removal as the target pollutant of concern due to high TSS concentrations impact on water quality and degradation to aquatic habitat. Many other pollutants of concern are particle-bound, and TSS is thereby a surrogate for other pollutants. Testing methodologies for stormwater

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Bioretention Part Three: Lessons Being Learned – Siting Issues and Inlet DesignNot done with siting issues yet, maybe this becomes five parts?   One issue on siting and design is the hydraulic grade lines.  Recall from your road drainage days the equations that were used to space catch pits and throat openings?  The equations allowed for you to

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As a volume based stormwater control measure, bioretention systems are providing beneficial use in that they reduce runoff volumes and peak flows. In areas where combined sewers are an issue, bioretention can reduce CSO frequency while increasing evapotranspiration and helping with groundwater recharge via infiltration processes. Common design

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As bioretention becomes more popular, many types of designs are being deployed throughout the U.S.  Though relatively simple in concept, many are finding that the devil is in the details with respect to maintenance and performance.  These issues are driving newer designs and improving criteria for use. Over my next few posts, I will be sharing some

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We are an industry of abbreviations and acronyms. The terms we use on a daily basis can sometimes hold a general or broad meaning in our minds, but the actual definition of these terms may leave our thumbs hovering over the game-show buzzer. To help ease the furrowed brows, we have collected and defined the top 11 terms every Stormwater Engineer

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The goal of the TMDL program is arguably simple - to develop watershed level conservation plans designed to restore impaired waters and attain applicable water quality standards – but its development and implementation has not been simple. In an attempt to bring new clarity to the process of incorporating TMDLs into stormwater permits, the EPA

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Using harvested rainwater is not new, it has been in practice for thousands of years (3000 B.C., and may be even earlier).  But we have something that wasn’t available back then; the ability to disinfect rainwater to make it safe for human contact or ingestion.  Harvested rainwater can be safely used outdoors and indoors if the correct steps are

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In my last blog post, What Kind of Trash and Debris is in Stormwater Runoff?, I wrote about the types of trash found in stormwater and the effects trash and debris have on our environment and infrastructure. Continuing with the topic of trash control; if your community is interested in developing a trash control strategy here are six key points

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At about 2.5% of the total water volume on the planet, we’ve always had roughly the same amount of freshwater.  Unfortunately, it seems that, at the local level, the amount of fresh water made available through precipitation is increasingly erratic, with the last year featuring historic floods in the eastern US and historic drought in the west.  In

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Most models and approaches toward cost accounting of Stormwater Control Measures (SCMs) use standardized engineering economics. These models use the first cost and annualized O&M costs, brought forward to present value using assumed interest rates, etc.  Models that are more sophisticated will break the first costs down to show engineering design,

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Since the Environmental Protection Agency, and in turn state and local regulators, have gone all in on green infrastructure (GI) and low impact development (LID) concepts a seemingly regrettable consequence has emerged.  Topics specific to the broader adoption and implementation of GI have monopolized our collective dialog on stormwater management

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As the need for effective stormwater treatment and volume control grows, so does the number of available stormwater control measures (SCMs) such as filtration systems, hydrodynamic separators, bio-retention  systems, green roofs and pervious pavement. As part of their due diligence, engineers go through an evaluation process to determine if the

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Drafting stormwater regulations that are clear, comprehensive and effective is crucial to protecting and preserving receiving waters.  The Clean Water Act has yielded a wide spectrum of local stormwater regulations and policies, but many leave something to be desired when it comes to actually mitigating the impacts of urban runoff.  It has been our

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Stormwater policy is put in place to control non-point source pollution and is usually tied to the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System Permit (NPDES).Implementation tends to take a while – not for a lack of desire to protect our water resources, but because it is often challenging to integrate stormwater policy through the existing

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Having worked in the field of stormwater management for almost 20 years, and seeing the conceptual and technological development of stormwater management and BMPs, it is clear we have had successes and failures.We need to learn from both, especially with USEPA’s national rulemaking activities to establish a program to reduce stormwater discharges

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Innovation has become synonymous with the United States, serving as a catalyst for our economic growth and continuous improvement of our standard of living.Economics aside, if not for innovative scientific and technological breakthroughs we would be without countless apparatuses, methodologies, and other discoveries that now serve as solutions to

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The intent of LEED Sustainable Sites Credit 6.2 is “to limit disruption and pollution of natural water flows by managing stormwater runoff,” and the requirements necessary for meeting this intent are clearly spelled out: capture 90% of the average annual rainfall and treat it by removing 80% of the total suspended solids (TSS). While the rating

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By now, you’ve probably heard of triple bottom line accounting, a full cost accounting approach considering the economic, environmental and social impacts of a decision or more poetically, the three P’s: people, planet and profit. In the stormwater infrastructure planning world, as in many other urban planning arenas, this approach is gaining

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As the economic downturn continues to shrink state coffers budget cuts have rendered numerous government programs nearly inoperable. Unfortunately, stormwater management and other water quality initiatives have not been spared from a similar fate.Considering that many state and municipal stormwater programs were already operating with a skeleton

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