Ecosystem Services Provided by Regenerative Stormwater Conveyance (RSC ) Systems

EPA Grant Number: FP917319
Title: Ecosystem Services Provided by Regenerative Stormwater Conveyance (RSC ) Systems
Investigators: Cizek, Adrienne R
Institution: North Carolina State University
EPA Project Officer: Lee, Sonja
Project Period: August 1, 2011 through July 31, 2014
Project Amount: $126,000
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2011) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Fellowship - Ecosystem Services: Aquatic Systems Ecology


An emerging interdisciplinary approach to stormwater management, referred to as regenerative stormwater conveyance (RSC), incorporates ephemeral stream restoration principles into structural stormwater control measures (SCM). Early studies on RSC systems observe that they adequately manage stormwater flows, while offering a suite of additional ecosystem services. This work intends to quantify the effectiveness of RSC at achieving typical stormwater mitigation criteria and additional ecosystem services by measuring the nutrient reduction, peak flow and volume reduction, carbon sequestration, biodiversity and habitat provision of different RSC systems in North Carolina (NC) and Maryland (MD). Ultimately, this research aims to estimate the true value of RSC systems, considering both the intended function (stormwater management) and the additional benefits (ecosystem services).


Research will be conducted on three newly constructed RSC systems in NC, two in the coastal plains and one in the Piedmont. These sites will be extensively monitored to better understand the ability of RSC and the hydrology involved in achieving volume control and water quality improvements. Sites will be monitored for 2 years. Additionally, the NC sites, along with a minimum of five existing sites in MD will be evaluated for carbon sequestration, biodiversity and habitat provision potential. The older MD sites will provide a perspective on ecosystem service establishment over time. Several existing stream reference sites also will be evaluated, chosen based on their proximity to the evaluated RSC systems. This work also will calculate the net present value of each system based on the services measured and the values provided by the literature to estimate an overall true value for RSC systems.

Expected Results:

The anticipated scientific contributions of this research will be four-fold. First, this work will expand the limited current research on RSC systems by evaluating the ability of multiple RSC sites to manage stormwater runoff and by projecting performance over a variety of storm sizes. Second, this work will provide quantitative data in regards to the potential for RSC systems to exhibit additional ecosystem services, namely carbon sequestration, biodiversity and habitat preservation. Third, this work further contributes to the literature comparing ecosystem services present in engineered and restored systems to those present at natural reference sites. Fourth, this research will provide a method and results for estimating the true value of RSC systems. It is the intention of this work that such a method will be extended to the valuation of other SCMs, hence providing a more accurate means to determine the appropriate stormwater approach to a given situation. Additionally, as North Carolina State faculty members meet with State of North Carolina stormwater regulators semi-annually in regards to current stormwater regulation, it is the intention of this research to provide a basis for which to consider RSC systems as a viable and valuable option for urban stormwater management.

Potential to Further Environmental/ Human Health Protection

The ultimate goal of this research is to provide resources necessary for progressing sustainable urban planning. Urban planners around the world advocate for sustainable cities through efficient land use, pollution reduction, restoration of natural systems and sustainable ecology. This work will provide hard data, methods and models demonstrating how RSC systems and other SCMs necessary in every urban area can be used to achieve these sustainable urban planning goals.

Supplemental Keywords:

stormwater control measure, regenerative stormwater conveyance, ecosystem services, engineered ecosystem, carbon sequestration,

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2012
  • 2013
  • Final