The EPA has launched a National Stormwater Calculator to help property owners, developers, landscapers and urban planners make better land-use decisions to protect local waterways from pollution caused by stormwater runoff.
The calculator, which is phase I of the Stormwater Calculator and Climate Assessment Tool package announced in President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, is a desktop application that estimates the annual amount of stormwater runoff from a specific site, based on local soil conditions, slope, land cover, and historical rainfall records.
Users can enter any US location and select different scenarios to learn how specific green infrastructure changes — including green roofs, rain harvesting and porous pavement — can prevent pollution. This information helps users determine how adding green infrastructure can be one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce stormwater runoff, the EPA says.
Preventing stormwater runoff, which can affect drinking water resources and local ecosystems, protects the environment and human health. Polluted stormwater runoff also adversely affects the economy — from closed beaches to decreased fishing and hunting in polluted areas.
The EPA will release an update to the Stormwater Calculator, which will include the ability to link to several future climate scenarios, by the end of the year. Climate projections indicate that heavy precipitation events are very likely to become more frequent as the climate changes, the agency says.
The European Commission in May adopted a strategy to promote green infrastructure in urban areas that it says will create new jobs, provide economic benefits and be a key step in implementing the European Union’s 2020 goals to protect biodiversity and ecosystems.
Union Carbide, a subsidiary of Dow Chemical, says it saved energy and reduced capital and operational expenses by using constructed wetlands to treat wastewater near Seadrift, Texas — one example of how companies are using green infrastructure solutions to achieve economic and environmental benefits, according to a whitepaper published last month.