Regenerative Stormwater Conveyance Provides Needed Treatment for Runoff Volume, Peak Discharge, and Quality Control for New Development or Retrofitting Underserved Watersheds
Abstract:Stormwater conveyance practices are grounded in industrial design that neglects integration with system processes, economics, and aesthetics. As a result, the greater volume of runoff from impervious surfaces, coupled with smooth and hardened conveyance systems (e.g., pipes and trapezoidal concrete channels), magnifies and transfers energies to the discharge or outfall. Conventional stormwater outfalls cause erosion, conveyance structures fail, receiving stream channels are degraded, in-stream sedimentation increases the influence of localized erosion upstream and downstream of the outfall, and an increasing spiral of degradation results. Local governments are forced to spend scare public funds on remediation measures. Alternatively, using stream restoration techniques to create a dependable open channel conveyance with pools and riffle grade controls is a regenerative design since the use of these elements result in a system of physical features, chemical processes, and biological mechanisms that can have dramatic positive feedback effects on the ecology of a drainage area. This approach results in the delivery of low energy storm water discharge, potential volume loss through infiltration and seepage, increased time of concentration as a result of increased roughness and storage along the flowpath, increased temporary water storage, restoration of lowered groundwater, increases in vernal pool wetland area, improved water quality treatment, improvements in local micro-habitat diversity, and provides a significant aesthetic value. These projects are generally a win-win-win arrangement, as conventional construction practices and materials are more expensive, conventional conveyance provides no environmental benefits and are more difficult to permit, and people generally enjoy the aesthetics associated with a well vegetated channel form when compared to the conventional conveyance alternative. This approach has been adopted in Maryland's draft NPDES guidance document (Maryland Department of the Environment 2011)
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: January 1, 2012
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