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IMPEDIMENTS AND SOLUTIONS TO SUSTAINABLE, WATERSHED-SCALE URBAN STORMWATER MANAGEMENT: LESSONS FROM AUSTRALIA AND THE UNITED STATES
ROY, A., S. J. WENGER, T. D. FLETCHER, C. J. WALSH, A. R. LADSON, W. D. SHUSTER, H. W. THURSTON, AND R. R. BROWN. IMPEDIMENTS AND SOLUTIONS TO SUSTAINABLE, WATERSHED-SCALE URBAN STORMWATER MANAGEMENT: LESSONS FROM AUSTRALIA AND THE UNITED STATES. V. H. Dale (ed.), ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT. Springer-Verlag, New York, NY, 42(2):344-359, (2008).
In urban and exurban areas, stormwater runoff is a primary stressor on surface waters (streams, wetlands, lakes, estuaries, and coastal waters). Conventional urban stormwater drainage systems often route runoff directly to streams and rivers, thus exacerbating pollutant inputs and hydrologic disturbance, and resulting in the degradation of ecosystem structure and function. Decentralized stormwater management tools such as low impact development (LID) or water sensitive urban design (WSUD) may offer a more sustainable solution to stormwater management if implemented at a watershed scale. These tools are designed to pond, infiltrate and harvest water at the source, encouraging evaporation, evapotranspiration, groundwater recharge, and re-use of stormwater. While there are numerous demonstrations of WSUD practices, there are few examples of widespread implementation at a watershed scale with the explicit objective of protecting or restoring a receiving stream. This paper identifies five major impediments to sustainable urban stormwater management: 1) fragmented responsibilities, 2) lack of appropriate legislative framework and standards, 3) uncertainties in the performance and cost of WSUD tools, 4) resistance to change due to perceptions of risk, and 5) lack of vision and capacity. By comparing experiences from Australia and the United States, two developed countries with existing conventional stormwater infrastructure and escalating stream ecosystem degradation, we highlight challenges facing sustainable urban stormwater management and offer examples of potential avenues for achieving watershed-scale protection. We conclude by identifying the most effective avenues for advancing from small-scale WSUD demonstrations scattered amid a matrix of conventional stormwater drainage, to widespread implementation of WSUD with watershed-based goals to restore or protect all streams.
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Organization:U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
NATIONAL RISK MANAGEMENT RESEARCH LABORATORY
SUSTAINABLE TECHNOLOGY DIVISION
SUSTAINABLE ENVIRONMENTS BRANCH