Approved by the Energy, Environment, and Water Policy Committee on February 24, 2021
Approved by the Public Policy and Practice Committee on May 4, 2021
Adopted by the Board of Direction on July 16, 2021
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) supports the management of stormwater runoff to reduce water pollution, prevent flooding, and use as a water source rather than a waste product. ASCE encourages:
- Coordinated and streamlined federal, state, and local regulatory programs.
- Recognition that stormwater problems need coordination at the watershed level – which often cross political boundaries - and require flexibility to reflect site-specific and regional conditions.
- Updated and adapted technical guidance project increased frequency and magnitude of precipitation and runoff due to climate change.
- Technologies and policies that encourage the harvesting of stormwater runoff to offset potable and non-potable water sources during periods of drought.
- Use of Low Impact Development and Green Infrastructure approaches to stormwater management.
- Regulatory approaches that focus on meeting receiving water quality standards utilizing best management practices.
- Asset management approaches to stormwater utilities that include life-cycle costs, inspection, and operations and maintenance.
- Funding for research and implementation of sustainable, cost-effective approaches to stormwater management.
- Consideration of social equity for disadvantaged communities in at-risk areas.
Urbanization and other land use changes lead to increased stormwater runoff quantity, decreased infiltration to groundwater, and non-point source pollution transported to our waterways. Water quality concerns include fertilizers, nutrients, metals, wastewater leaks, and increased temperature. Increased stormwater runoff quantity can lead to flooding, loss of property due to erosion, reduction in base-flow, loss of aquatic habitat, increased water velocity in streams and rivers causing increased turbidity and destroying habitat, and contaminated water used for drinking and recreation. Additionally, our nation’s stormwater infrastructure – pipes, storm drains, Best Management Practices, and swales –are increasingly inadequate due to age, lack of maintenance, and increased storm size and frequency.
Low-income areas are often exposed to the greatest environmental hazards but are the most limited in terms of capacity to adapt to acute environmental shocks, such as extreme weather events and chronic stresses from repeated flooding from frequent, smaller storms. The combined effects of infrastructure aging, increases in urbanization, and increases in precipitation extremes heightens the importance of stormwater management in civil infrastructure planning, not only from the perspective of managing negative impacts of runoff, but also from the perspectives of adverse public health results and the need to use stormwater runoff as a water supply source. It is important for policy makers to understand that increased risk and aged assets will need both financial and policy initiatives to protect life, safety, and the environment that sustains us.
ASCE Policy Statement 441
First Approved in 1995