Considering Climate Change in the Design of Common Stormwater Controls


  • Matthew Jones - Hazen and Sawyer

Stormwater and efforts to manage its impacts are intrinsically linked to climate. As climate change projections have advanced, there are increasing interests and needs to consider climate resiliency in the design of stormwater controls. Many of these efforts have focused on coastal areas and issues of sea level rise; however, the long-term functionality of many stormwater controls being implemented throughout Virginia in response to the Chesapeake Bay TMDL can be impacted by changing rainfall patterns and other aspects of climate change. Although the underlying climate changes are the same, the application of tools and analysis procedures to these projects differs substantially with regards to the type of climate change impacts considered and the level of analysis required.

An assessment of available analysis tools within the U.S. Climate Resiliency Toolkit was conducted to provide insight into how climate resiliency can be considered in an appropriate context for stormwater controls like bioretention, permeable pavement, and stormwater wetlands. NOAA’s Climate Explorer and EPA’s CREAT Climate Scenarios Project Map were found to be among the most useful tools for informing the design of common stormwater controls. These tools provided localized information on projected changes in storm distributions, depths, and intensities without requiring extensive analysis. A series of design examples illustrates that the impact of climate change on stormwater controls depends upon the type of stormwater control, geographic area, climate modeling scenario, and time period of analysis. A streamlined fact sheet template was developed to present results for individual designs, while also explaining some of the underlying analysis for a diverse audience. In total, the consideration of climate change through the use of the tools discussed in this presentation is expected to better ensure the effective long-term functionality of many of the stormwater controls being implemented throughout Virginia and the larger Chesapeake Bay region.

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Horizons Fall 2017 (pdf)

Horizons showcases significant water, wastewater, reuse, and stormwater projects and innovations that help our clients to achieve their goals, and can help you achieve yours. Articles are written by top engineers and process group leaders, demonstrating and explaining the beneficial application of a variety of technologies and tools.

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