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What is Stormwater Management?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 01 November 2016
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Stormwater management is a process that focuses on properly managing any form of precipitation that is not readily absorbed into the ground during some type of weather event. While stormwater is often considered in terms of rainfall, this process of wastewater management also applies to situations where snowfall melts and creates runoff in city streets and other environments. The goal of stormwater management is to process the excess water in a manner that prevents damage to property and makes it possible for the collected water to be efficiently used in another setting.

There are several reasons why stormwater management is important to protecting the environment. One advantage to this type of activity is that it is possible to slow the rate of erosion that may result from the presence of excessive runoff. Erosion removes layers of soil and can, over time, undermine the foundations of buildings or render farmland unfit for growing crops. Diverting excess water helps to minimize this gradual degradation and keeps property from becoming wasteland.

Another benefit to effective stormwater management is that it helps to limit the amount of pollution that may occur as excess water drains into rivers and lakes. Often, municipal water processing systems are equipped to receive and purify stormwater before it is released for any reason. This process means that the water is cleansed of any elements that could threaten the ecological balance of life in rivers and lakes, ultimately benefiting everyone who lives in the area.

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Effective stormwater management often involves considering local weather and environmental conditions and creating policies and procedures that make stormwater collection and purification possible. For example, areas where rainfall is heavy during a specific season may use slightly different procedures than an area where a great deal of snowmelt occurs during one or two months each year. Many approaches involve establishing drainage systems that help convey the stormwater to a facility where it is cleansed before being released into a local body of water, or recycled into an existing municipal water system.

In many nations, the process of stormwater management is conducted by a national environmental agency. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the United States provides guidelines that aid municipalities in creating and maintaining effective stormwater processing polices and procedures. The creation of uniform standards throughout a county helps to improve the chances that all bodies of water within a given nation remain relatively unaffected by pollution. When stormwater management is combined with other types of wastewater management, such as the processing of waste from manufacturing plants, the potential for maintaining clean waterways is significantly enhanced.

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