We recently spoke on this topic at a conference called “It Rains Everywhere, and It Drains Somewhere”…which is exactly the point. Through urbanization and agricultural drainage, we have very measurably altered the way our presettlement landscapes “managed” stormwater. Agricultural drainage with tile and ditches contribute immense amounts of sedimented water to our river systems. In urban areas, engineered systems designed to funnel water downstream, or to detain it, or retain it, have not been able to prevent flooding problems.
Farm land drainage and traditional urban stormwater systems have contributed greatly to our muddied, eroded streams, poor water quality in nutrient-rich lakes and the typically degraded fish and wildlife habitat in our riparian corridors.
However, whether on a watershed scale or on any specific site, alternative stormwater management systems can be designed using natural systems such as wetlands to clean the water in our waterways, to mitigate flooding impacts, to provide healthy fish and wildlife habitat…in short, alternative stormwater management uses healthy natural landscapes to provide a higher quality of life in our communities.
On specific sites, AES develops Stormwater Treatment Train© systems designed to emulate (as much as possible) the hydrologic behavior of the pre-settlement landscape. STT systems favor the use of absorbent stormwater swales, prairie buffers and wetlands to manage stormwater, minimizing curb, gutter and storm sewer to the extent possible.
On a watershed scale, alternative stormwater management principles provide opportunities to restore degraded wetlands or farmed wetlands, with a host of downstream benefits. They also offer opportunities to stabilize our stream systems, increasing and improving fish and wildlife habitat.
Innovative hydrologic studies, sound ecological planning and active involvement of local communities are the hallmarks of successful projects with goals for environmentally sensitive stormwater management.
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