University of Vermont

RAN: Redesigning the American Neighborhood Project

stormwater background

Stormwater Basics: Background

Stormwater management has become a front burner issue for environmental, economic, and social reasons:

  1. Stormwater can affect not only ecological systems but human health and well being. It is a vehicle or mechanism by which pollutants are carried downstream to our streams, rivers, and lakes.
  2. We pay the economic price of stormwater mismanagement: The costs of after-the-fact stormwater management are high, most particularly "end of the pipe" or downstream solutions, which are often passed along to the taxpayer via property, water, and sewer taxes.
  3. Stormwater mismanagement can adversely affect valuable and valued public resources, such as Lake Champlain. Further, private property can be adversely affected as a result of erosion and flooding.

In the following pages we explain some of the most important issues related to stormwater dynamics, quantity, and quality. We start with a short presentation showing why stormwater became such an issue in the recent past. You can advance through the presentation by pressing the buttons; also note the text in the window on top for some comments.

Click to start presentation

Many of the problems associated with stormwater are caused by the simple fact that we are rapidly changing the landscape where we live. This change in land use over the past 60 years has been rapid, leaving fewer natural landscapes and dramatically increasing areas that are impervious, where water can no longer infiltrate into the ground.

Below is the reconstruction of the build-out of the Potash Brook watershed created by Ray Godfrey, Resource Inventory Coordinator, USDA-NRCS.

Click on the map to see the enlarged image. Or click HERE to download an animation (4 Mb file).

1942 1962
1942 - 252 acres, 6% watershed built out 1962 - 611 acres, 15% watershed built out
1974 1980
1974 - 961 acres, 23% watershed built out 1980 - 1,188 acres, 29% watershed built out
1986 1992
1986 - 1,394 acres, 34% watershed built out 1992 - 1,597 acres, 39% watershed built out
1999 2003
1999 - 1,783 acres, 43% watershed built out 2003 - 1,895 acres, 46% watershed built out

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Last modified October 16 2009 10:20 AM

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