the Watershed Management Optimization Support Tool (WMOST)

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 opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

A High-Tech Approach to Watershed Management

By Marguerite Huber

Close-up-of-waterfallTechnology amazes me.  It seems like every day new technologies are being developed, and we are suddenly able to do things faster and easier.  And I am not just talking about the latest smartphone or app, but a new tool created by EPA scientists, too!

EPA researchers studying green infrastructure (using vegetation, soil, and other naturalistic techniques to reduce stormwater runoff) collaborated with colleagues in the Agency’s New England office (EPA Region 1) to develop a new public-domain software app called the Watershed Management Optimization Support Tool (WMOST).

The goal of the tool is to help water resource managers and planners identify cost effective, sustainable green infrastructure options for their local jurisdictions. After users enter information about their watershed, water utility infrastructure and constraints related to management objectives, the tool will identify the optimal (lowest cost) long-term solution.

EPA scientist Naomi Detenbeck, who has been working on the tool for the past two years, describes WMOST as “a user-friendly tool that allows communities to meet their water use needs in the most cost effective manner.” It can even be used to evaluate land use and climate change scenarios!

WMOST can easily evaluate more than twenty potential management practices and goals related to water supply, such as surface water storage and non-potable water reuse. The tool requires some specific community inputs such as watershed characteristics and management goals. With this information, WMOST can simply calculate the optimal solution.

Local water resources managers, such as municipal water works managers and consultants, can use WMOST to evaluate projects related to stormwater, water supply, wastewater and more.  At this time, it is designed for small watersheds, single communities, or multiple communities within a small watershed.

Detenbeck explains that WMOST will help communities complete a more comprehensive evaluation of watershed management issues. It will also allow communities to look holistically across their stormwater, wastewater, and drinking water programs.

Some of our favorite technologies, such as our smartphone or tablet, provide us with instant gratification and updates. On the other hand, technologies like WMOST are more focused on the long run. Results may not be instantaneous, but in time they will provide a meaningful environmental impact that all of us will get to benefit from.

The WMOST download can be found here.

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

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.