Fall is here and winter is rightaround the corner, bringing with it rain and snow. In largevolumes, the rain or snowmelt can create stormwater runoff if itdoesn't seep into the ground. Stormwater management is an issuethat developers need to think about when planning out their sites,not only to protect their property against damage, but also toensure compliance with the regulations imposed by state and localagencies. Lack or improper development of stormwater measurescould affect the integrity of building structures and surroundingareas.

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Complying With Stormwater Regulations

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There are various ways to mitigate stormwater issues, whichI recently discussed as part of a webinarproduced and aired by the Strafford, an industry provider ofprofessional Continuing Legal/Education credits. The webinar(titled “Stormwater Discharge and CWA Compliance AfterEPA Rule Revisions and Recent High Profile Spills”)provided clarification on the recently revised stormwater dischargepermit requirements. A number of recent projects I worked onbrought to light key issues and concerns for complying with thesestormwater discharge permitting requirements. I was able toshare some best management practices and give an overview of thecurrent trends as they relate to state mandated stormwaterdischarge permits (For more about that see here. Strafford has also made the actualrecording of the webinar available via their website)

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Stormwater – When Rain and Snow Becomesan Issue
Stormwater occurs naturally, from rain ormelting snow, which runs off streets, lawns, and other sites. Whenstormwater is absorbed into the ground, it is naturally filteredand allowed to replenish the soil or flow into bodies of water,such as streams and rivers. But when land is developed withimpervious surfaces, such as pavement, it prevents precipitationfrom soaking back into the ground. As a result, the water canrapidly drain into storm drains, sewer systems, drainage ditchesand other areas that are not equipped for this volume ofrun-off. This causes a variety of problems including streamflooding and bank erosion; habitat destruction; infrastructuredamages; and contaminated streams, rivers, and coastal water.

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Following Best Management Practices (BMP) Manualguidelines

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Traditionally, stormwater management design has consisted ofthe collection of stormwater through piped networks andtransporting it to an offsite location - either directly to astream, river or a water basin, or into a combined sewer systemthat goes into a wastewater treatment plant. Other methods ofstormwater management include Low impactdevelopment (LID) and wet weather green infrastructure.

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The Environmental Protection Agency has published a menu of stormwater Best Management Practices (BMP) forcontrolling storm runoff. The manual gives engineers theopportunity to incorporate a variety of stormwater managementdevices into their site designs. Many States have developed theirown regulations based on this manual, which stipulate the measuresthat builders and property owners must implement to managestormwater issues. The NewJersey Stormwater Best Management Practices Manual for examplestates that if the design of any development disturbs at least oneacre of land or increases impervious surfaces by at least ¼ of anacre the engineer must incorporate structural and/or non-structuralstormwater management measures that prevent the loss of groundwaterrecharge at the site.

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Stormwater Management In Urban Areas

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In urban areas it is more difficult to manage stormwater, due inpart to the lack of land available to create large basins or largestructural drainage systems. Non-structural systems are a much morefeasible way to mitigate stormwater issues. Some of these non-structuralmeasures can include the installation of porous pavement, raingardens, downspout planters, green roofs, or underground systems(or 'grey stormwater systems'). The benefit of addingfeatures such as natural plants, decorative porous pavement, andgreen roofs is two-fold: in addition to addressing the stormwaterproblem and managing a potential threat to infrastructure andenvironment, these features improve properties values by addingpleasing aesthetic elements. The Best Management Practice Manual onyour State's DEP will provide further detail on requirements andrecommended measures.

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