Group presents strategies to manage urban stormwater runoff as El Nino nears

Oct. 19, 2015

Impermeable surfaced like concrete do not allow rainwater to seep directly into the ground, so large volumes of pollutants often run straight into waterways.

IRVINE, Calif. — Oct. 16, 2015 — An international group of experts suggest several low-impact development technologies (LIDs) to help California deal with the upcoming El Nino weather pattern, according to a press release.

LIDs are designed to manage pre-urban stream functions, noted the release. Examples of LIDs include "green roofs that absorb and evapotranspire rainfall; rainwater tanks attached to homes and other buildings; and permeable pavement for roads, driveways and parking lots." The group recommends that rainwater be used for toilet-flushing and laundry.

These and other strategies were published by the experts in an article in the American Chemical Society journal Environmental Science & Technology, stated the release. Stanley Grant, professor of civil & environmental engineering at the University of California, Irvine, (UCI), is senior author of the paper. Other contributors include:

"This team offers a key example of the significant role that University of California scientists can play in finding innovative solutions for major state problems," said co-author Lisa Levin, a distinguished professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, in the release. "With drought so pervasive, California cannot afford to waste its precious stormwater, nor can it afford to send contaminants into the ocean. The options addressed in this article tackle both of these issues."

Impermeable surfaced like concrete do not allow rainwater to seep directly into the ground, so large volumes of pollutants often run straight into waterways, reported the release. This can lead to erosion; flooding; rising stream temperatures; oxygen, carbon and nutrient imbalances; and increased sediment, pollutants and pathogens.

"The bottom line is that these solutions are good for the environment and good for people too; they just require changing habits," Grant shared in the release. "For example, over 2 million people in Australia use rainwater from their roofs to flush toilets and that makes good sense. Using drinking water to flush toilets is literally washing our future down the drain."

You can find the entire release here.

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