Stormwater model to inform regulators on future development projects

Jul 19, 2010

North Carolina State University researchers have developed a computer model that will accurately predict stormwater pollution impacts from proposed real-estate developments - allowing regulators to make informed decisions about which development projects can be approved without endangering water quality. The model could serve as a blueprint for similar efforts across the country.

"The model is designed to evaluate the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus found in stormwater runoff from residential and commercial developments - particularly runoff from a completed project, not a site that is under construction," says Dr. Bill Hunt, an associate professor and extension specialist of biological and agricultural engineering at NC State who helped develop the model. "To comply with regional regulations, cities and counties have to account for nutrient loads," Hunt says, "but the existing tools are antiquated and aren't giving us sufficiently accurate data."

The researchers developed the model using chemical, physical and land-use data specific to North Carolina and surrounding states. This allowed them to account for regional conditions, which will improve the model's accuracy. "Because the model uses regional data, it could be modified easily for use east of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina and adjoining states," Hunt says.

The model could also serve as a blueprint for similar efforts nationally. "The primary obstacle to applying this model outside North Carolina - in Florida or Colorado, for example - would be collecting relevant data from those areas and incorporating it into the model's framework," Hunt says. "The actual model itself would be fairly easy to modify."

State and local government officials, as well as developers, can plug proposed development plans into the model and get an accurate estimate of the level of nutrients that would likely be included in stormwater runoff from the completed development site. This would give officials key data that they can use to determine whether a proposed development project should be allowed to move forward or require additional stormwater treatment.

The model was designed in response to state regulations limiting the amount of nutrients that can flow into Jordan Lake in central North Carolina. The regulations affect a host of North Carolina municipalities, including Durham, Greensboro, Chapel Hill, Cary and Chatham County.

In addition to its long-term applications elsewhere, the model will likely be used to help implement forthcoming stormwater treatment requirements for North Carolina's Falls Lake Watershed.

Explore further: Halliburton pays $1.1 bn for Gulf of Mexico BP spill

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New model predicts hot spots for mercury in fish

Dec 01, 2008

Mercury levels in fish are prompting widespread consumption advisories and uncertainty among consumers over which species are safe to eat. Now researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a model that will ...

EPA's stormwater program needs a significant overhaul

Oct 15, 2008

Radical changes to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's stormwater program are necessary to reverse degradation of fresh water resources and ensure progress toward the Clean Water Act's goal of "fishable and swimmable" ...

Expert: North Carolina's beaches cleaner than most

Jun 10, 2010

North Carolina's beach-goers generally enjoy clean water, but the ocean can become polluted after a heavy rainfall. Rachel Noble, a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill water-quality expert, gives the ...

Recommended for you

Halliburton pays $1.1 bn for Gulf of Mexico BP spill

6 hours ago

Oil services company Halliburton said Tuesday it would pay a $1.1 billion settlement over its role in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil rig blowout that led to the United States' most disastrous oil spill.

Underwater grass comeback bodes well for Chesapeake Bay

7 hours ago

The Susquehanna Flats, a large bed of underwater grasses near the mouth of the Susquehanna River, virtually disappeared from the upper Chesapeake Bay after Tropical Storm Agnes more than 40 years ago. However, ...

Clean air halves health costs in Chinese city

9 hours ago

Air pollution regulations over the last decade in Taiyuan, China, have substantially improved the health of people living there, accounting for a greater than 50% reduction in costs associated with loss of life and disability ...

User comments : 0