Alexander Lumber | Champaign, IL

Stormwater Innovations Mean Something

Stephanie Brown, AICP | with 0 Comments

Stormwater Innovations Mean Something

Now more than ever before, cities are making a conscious effort to reduce, if not outright eliminate stormwater runoff and the associated contaminations that occur in urban areas. The problem of excessive stormwater runoff is a man-made issue that grows as cites grow. By engineering solutions based on rainwater management that occur in nature, water resources professionals in states such as Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota and Illinois are making it possible to keep nature clean while preventing future issues related to water management within the built environment.
According to a study by the UN Population Division, more than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas. Large amounts of impervious area associated with modern cityscapes prevent water from soaking into the ground as easily as it does in natural environments. Therefore, extra measures need to be taken to restore a watersheds infiltration capacity. Some of these innovations include rooftop gardens, bioretention gardens and permeable pavements.
Another way to mimic naturalized water balances is through low impact development which focus on lessening the impact of impervious surfaces and maximizing the function of green spaces. A rooftop garden is a great example where both principal elements are combined in one – the garden helps to absorb rainfall which would otherwise become runoff and have to be dealt with elsewhere.  These types of practices are especially important in densely developed Midwest cities like Champaign where the ground level space is limited.
Of course, installing stormwater management practices comes at a cost; one not easily borne by a municipality faced with many competing economic challenges.  Our free stormwater utility webinar discusses how to measure the feasibility of implementing a stormwater utility in a city. For example, the Equivalent Residential Unit (ERU) is a system that’s used to bill residents for urban stormwater utility costs. This system is proportional to the services provided based on the household’s contribution to the problem rather than being based on a flat fee. It’s being used in cities including Madison, Wis., and Dubuque, Iowa.
With proper planning, education and public involvement efforts, effective stormwater solutions can be planned and implemented for your community. Contact MSA’s Stephanie Brown for more information.

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