Learn about storm drain infrastructure and why improving them is important.
About stormwater management
Existing stormwater management systems throughout the United States are aging and in need of improvements. Systems in our largest cities were often built over 100 years ago, and while public utilities are constantly working to improve and repair systems, these improvements often can not keep up with the pace of development and the increased runoff from these new impervious surfaces. Funds for capital improvements are also limited, forcing utilities to choose which problem to address, rather than addressing all issues. Additionally, older systems were built for different climate conditions than we experience today. Some municipalities have recently begun planning with sea level rise taken into account, a necessary inclusion for any system that discharges to a bay or ocean, but many others have not.
Improvements to stormwater management
Identifying flood challenges will help municipalities target improvements and plan for the future, especially those without custom hydraulic models. System improvements include a wide variety of different green and grey infrastructure solutions that can be employed depending on the specific hydrologic challenges faced in a flood-prone area. An appropriate balance of green and grey infrastructure can also help meet local water quality goals, another major function of stormwater management systems. Even with increased funding and improvements, there can always be an event larger than what a system was designed to handle. For this reason, it is especially important for utilities to plan for resilience moving forward by allowing floodable areas and building with future improvements in mind.
If your local stormwater management utility has made recent improvements to their infrastructure, or if the existing system can successfully manage stormwater in areas we show flooding, please let us know. We are always improving our model with more refined infrastructure data.