Partners in Progress

by Tom Damm

In a room inside Talen Energy Stadium normally reserved for Philadelphia Union soccer player interviews, EPA and a group of partners had a game-changing announcement to make earlier this year.

It had nothing to do with soccer but a lot to do with goals – goals for the City of Chester, Pennsylvania to prevent flooding in its neighborhoods, revive its economy, and reduce stormwater pollution impacting its local creeks and the Delaware River.

EPA was joined by Chester, state, and private sector officials to announce a Community-Based Public-Private Partnership, or CBP3, to plan, finance, build and maintain up to $50 million in green stormwater infrastructure in Chester.

The Chester Stormwater Authority and its private partner, Corvias, have plans to transform the face of the city, turning hundreds of acres of hard surfaces into absorbent green spaces and working with small, minority-owned businesses to generate hundreds of local jobs in the process.

Green Infrastructure not only helps prevent stormwater runoff and localized flooding, it creates safe walkable communities that enhance the quality of life for the people who live there. The green features will mimic nature and allow stormwater to soak in rather than rush into streets and nearby waters carrying trash, bacteria, heavy metals and other pollutants.

As the speakers took turns at the podium, the launch of the partnership was met with great joy, appreciation and more than a few Amens from Chester residents.

Chester officials called it an opportunity to “turn the page” in their distressed city.  Corvias praised the city’s “courage” to try a new approach.  And the state infrastructure finance agency, PENNVEST, confirmed a $1 million grant to kick-start the effort.

EPA’s Mid-Atlantic Region provided technical and planning assistance to help design and develop the partnership, led by our Water Protection Division Deputy Director Dominique Lueckenhoff.   She was instrumental in developing the prototype for the concept – the successful CBP3 in Prince George’s County, Maryland – and has written a playbook for other local governments to follow.

Since the launch event, the Chester Stormwater Authority Partnership has developed a Long-Term Implementation Plan and conducted six community meetings to roll out the plan, with significant local attendance and input.  Five more meetings are scheduled in the coming months.  Feedback from the meetings is being used to determine the priority order of projects.

 

About the Author: Tom Damm has been with EPA since 2002 and now serves as communications coordinator for the region’s Water Protection Division.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

The Tools in Our Green Infrastructure Toolkit

By Michaela Burns 

Almost everyone has a story to share about storms.  Maybe it rained so hard one day that you stayed inside curled up by the fireplace. Maybe it caused a power outage that left you and your family playing board games by flashlight. When I think about storms, I always think about the clogged drains that kept brown stormwater filled with trash on the sidewalks of Manhattan. My childhood friends and I would make a game of dancing over these large puddles. As an adult it became something I warily sidestepped to protect my shoes.

That water is called stormwater runoff, which is rain water that picks up chemicals, metals, and other debris as it travels to the sewers. Hundreds of cities in the U.S. like New York and Chicago use a combined sewer system to move stormwater runoff and wastewater away from urban centers and to treatment plants. During heavy storms, excess water overflows the system and sewage is sent straight to nearby water sources. These overflows are called combined sewer overflows (CSOs) and they are a major water pollution concern for cities. In New York, for example, more than 27 billion gallons of sewage and polluted stormwater contaminates the Hudson River each year.rain drops with info on each tool

EPA supports the use of green infrastructure (e.g. green roofs, permeable parking lots, rain gardens) because it can help reduce the amount of stormwater contaminating our water sources and prevent erosion and flooding that can damage infrastructure and the environment. EPA researchers have developed different green infrastructure models and tools to help communities with stormwater management. An upcoming EPA webinar will present a modeling toolkit consisting of five such resources and additional communication material that can be used to help implement certain green infrastructure practices. The models and tools in this toolkit include:

  • Green Infrastructure Wizard (GIWIZ) – GIWIZ is a web application that provides communities with information on EPA green infrastructure tools and resources.
  • Watershed Management Optimization Support Tool (WMOST) – WMOST is a software application that allows water resource managers and planners to screen a wide range of management practices for cost-effectiveness and economic sustainability.
  • Visualizing Ecosystem Land Management (VELMA) Assessments– VELMA is a computer software model that regional planners and land managers can use to determine which green infrastructure practice would be most effective for improving water quality in streams, estuaries, and groundwater.
  • Storm Water Management Model (SWMM)-The SWMM is a simulation model that communities can use for stormwater runoff reduction planning, analysis, and the design of combined sewers and other drainage systems.
  • The National Stormwater Calculator (SWC) – The SWC is a desktop application that estimates the annual amount of rainwater and frequency of runoff from a specific site anywhere in the United States (including Puerto Rico). Users can use SWC to learn about the ways that green infrastructure technology like rain gardens can prevent water pollution in their neighborhoods.

Register now for this webinar on Wednesday, October 26th at 2:00 pm ET to learn from EPA researchers how these tools can help you incorporate green infrastructure into your community. Or discover the green infrastructure modeling toolkit on your own time.

About the Author: Michaela Burns is an Oak Ridge Associated Universities contractor and writer for the science communication team in EPA’s Office of Research and Development.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Storm Water Management Model Gets Climate Update

By Marguerite Huber

Image of a flooded local park

EPA researchers are helping address runoff problems.

EPA researchers are developing strategies and resources to help city planners, managers, and others address stormwater runoff problems, including those related to impervious surfaces and combined sewer overflows. One powerful tool available is the Stormwater Management Model, also known by its acronym, “SWMM.”

EPA’s Storm Water Management Model is a publically-available rainfall-runoff simulation model that provides a suite of information about urban water patterns. It is used for planning, analysis, and design related to stormwater runoff, combined sewers, sanitary sewers, and other drainage systems in urban areas, and is the basis for the National Stormwater Calculator.

SWMM has the ability to estimate the pollution loads associated with stormwater runoff. Various versions of the model have been in existence since 1971, and it has been used in thousands of hydrology and drainage system design projects around the world.

The tool is designed to be customizable, helping particular urban areas meet local watershed challenges. For example, municipalities and communities can use it to design and size drainage system components for flood control, to design control strategies for minimizing combined sewer overflows, and to control site runoff using low impact development practices.

The Storm Water Management Model Climate Adjustment Tool (SWMM-CAT) is a new addition to SWMM. It is a simple to use software utility that allows future climate change projections to be incorporated into SWMM.

Screen shot of EPA's SWMM-CAT tool showing a map with stormwater data

Storm Water Management Model

SWMM-CAT provides a set of location-specific adjustments that derived from global climate change models run as part of the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 3 (CMIP3) archive. These are the same climate change simulations that helped inform the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in preparing its Fourth Assessment report.

Both SWMM and the Stormwater Calculator are a part of the President’s Climate Action Plan.

“Climate change threatens our health, our economy, and our environment,” said Gina McCarthy, EPA Administrator. “As part of the President’s Climate Action Plan, this tool will help us better prepare for climate impacts by helping build safer, sustainable, and more resilient water infrastructure.”

The continued development of predictive modeling tools such as SWMM will provide urban planners and other stakeholders with the resources they need to incorporate both traditional stormwater and wastewater system technologies with the emerging, innovative techniques of green infrastructure. The collective impact will be more sustainable urban areas and healthier waterways across the nation.

SWMM-CAT can be downloaded here.

If you are interested in learning more about SWMM-CAT, join our webinar on 2/25/15 at 12:00 PM ET!

About the Author: Marguerite Huber is a Student Contractor with EPA’s Science Communications Team.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.