Tight budgets, limited resources, new regulations, unexpected problems, citizen concerns, â€œto doâ€ lists that stretch over decadesâ€”stormwater management at the community level is often about how people collaborate and make day-to-day decisions. When faced with a new technology, program managers need to know whether it will mesh with the culture of their organization. Will staff and contractors understand how to install the new systems? Do they have the resources on hand to build them? Can they be maintained without blowing the budget? Will they protect water quality and help meet regulatory requirements?
In 12 years of working alongside communities, we have found that the answer to such questions is â€œyesâ€ when two essential ingredients are present. The first is a communityâ€™s capacity to evaluate innovative designs and practices and make them their own. And the first depends on the secondâ€”a local champion with the respect, trust, and power to put new science-based stormwater management technologies into practice and inspire real cultural change for the future. These case studies illustrate what can happen when these necessary ingredients for change meet some of the biggest challenges faced by stormwater managers nationwide.
Chronic and episodic water shortages are becoming common in many regions of the United States, and population growth in water-scarce regions further compounds the challenges. Increasingly, alternative water sources such as graywater (untreated wastewater that does not include water from the toilet but generally includes water from bathroom sinks, showers, bathtubs, clothes washers, and laundry sinks) and stormwater (water from rainfall or snow that can be measured downstream in a pipe, culvert, or stream shortly after the precipitation event) are being viewed as resources to supplement scarce water supplies rather than as waste to be discharged as rapidly as possible. Graywater and stormwater can serve a range of non-potable uses, including irrigation, toilet flushing, washing, and cooling, although treatment may be needed. Stormwater may also be used to recharge groundwater, which may ultimately be tapped for potable use. In addition to providing additional sources of local water supply, harvesting stormwater has many potential benefits, including energy savings, pollution prevention, and reducing the impacts of urban development on urban streams. Similarly, the reuse of graywater can enhance water supply reliability and extend the capacity of existing wastewater systems in growing cities.
A guide to help communities better manage stormwater while achieving other environmental, public health, social, and economic benefits.