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Software Helps Reduce Water Pollution

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Posted July 25, 2013

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) yesterday released the National Stormwater Calculator, an innovative addition to the administration’s virtual climate resilience toolkit. EPA’s new calculator will help property owners, developers, landscapers, and urban planners make informed land-use decisions to protect local waterways from pollution caused by stormwater runoff. Preventing stormwater runoff, which can impact drinking water resources and local ecosystems, protects people’s health and the environment.

The calculator, which is phase I of the Stormwater Calculator and Climate Assessment Tool package announced in the U.S. President’s Climate Action Plan in June, is a desktop application that estimates the annual amount of stormwater runoff from a specific site, based on local soil conditions, slope, land cover, and historical rainfall records. Users can enter any U.S. location and select different scenarios to learn how specific green infrastructure changes, including inexpensive changes like rain barrels and rain gardens, can prevent pollution. This information helps users determine how adding green infrastructure can be one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce stormwater runoff.

“EPA’s research is providing innovative solutions to protect our nation’s water resources,” said Lek Kadeli, principal deputy assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “The Stormwater Calculator demonstrates different types of green infrastructure approaches which can result in protection from flooding, energy savings, improved air quality, increased property values, healthier communities, and cost savings for the American people.”

Each year billions of gallons of raw sewage, trash, household chemicals, and urban runoff flow into our streams, rivers and lakes. Polluted stormwater runoff can adversely affect plants, animals, and people. It also adversely affects our economy – from closed beaches to decreased fishing and hunting in polluted areas. Green infrastructure is an affordable solution to promote healthy waters and support sustainable communities. 

An update to the Stormwater Calculator, which will include the ability to link to several future climate scenarios, will be released by the end of 2013. Climate projections indicate that heavy precipitation events are very likely to become more frequent as the climate changes. 

More information about the National Stormwater Calculator: https://www.epa.gov/nrmrl/wswrd/wq/models/swc/

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