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Green Column: EPA updates stormwater runoff calculator

BY TISH OSBORNE
Pasco Press correspondent

Published:   |   Updated: February 14, 2014 at 04:28 PM

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released Phase II of the National Stormwater Calculator and Climate Assessment Tool package. The updated calculator includes future climate vulnerability scenarios.

The calculator, a part of President Barack Obama’s Climate Change Action Plan, is a desktop application that estimates the annual amount of stormwater runoff from a specific location.

The calculator now includes changes in seasonal precipitation levels, the effects of more frequent high-intensity storms and changes in evaporation rates. It adds future climate scenarios to last year’s Phase I, which included 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 such as rain barrels and rain gardens, can reduce stormwater runoff.

This information shows users how adding green infrastructure, which mimics natural processes, can be one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce stormwater runoff.

Every 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.

Polluted runoff also negatively impacts our economy, from closed beaches to decreased fishing in polluted areas.

“Using the calculator to choose the best green infrastructure options for an area is an innovative and efficient way to promote healthy waters and support sustainable communities,” the EPA release said.

The National Stormwater Calculator and Climate Assessment Tool package is available online at www.epa.gov/nrmrl/wswrd/wq/models/swc/.

You can find more information about the toolkit at the Whitehouse.gov site and more on EPA’s Green Infrastructure research at http://water.epa.gov.

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