Surface runoff is a major component of the water cycle. It occurs when water from rain, storms, or snow flow across the land towards water bodies because the soil is already too saturated to absorb it. With the rise of urban development, however, stormwater runoff has become a major contributor to water pollution. In a natural environment, only 10% of water is run off. However, in a city where streets are mostly paved, as much as 55% of the water reaches lakes, rivers and oceans where harmful chemicals and debris are deposited. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, stormwater runoff accounts for 20% of polluted lakes and 45% of polluted estuaries in the country.

In line with this, U.S. Senator Tom Udall is proposing a law to control the damage done by runoff water. According to The Republic:

The New Mexico Democrat says storm water runoff is the leading cause of water pollution nationwide.

The legislation would encourage the use of innovative and economic approaches to managing and reducing such pollution. Solutions could include permeable pavement, restoring natural drainage features and building green roofs.

Under the measure, up to five centers of excellence would be established to conduct research, develop recommendations and provide training for implementing management practices for controlling and managing storm water runoff.

Along Senator Udall’s vision to manage runoff, there are cost-efficient stormwater solutions such as the StormChamber from HydroLogic Solutions, Inc. Its storage capacity is 60% greater than the next biggest product, which means that there are fewer chambers to install. As such, time and labor needed for installation is significantly reduced, while still offering water quality that exceeds national, state and local standards.

Installing stormwater management solutions should also be complemented by educating citizens on ways to mitigate runoff pollution. For example, homeowners should limit their use of fertilizers so less will be carried off by rainwater. Likewise, picking up after pets will ensure that bacteria will not be conveyed by runoff water to water bodies.

It’s estimated that a billion people around the world do not have access to safe drinking water. Water pollution is a problem that governments and citizens cannot ignore. Fortunately, stormwater solutions and proper education are small but meaningful steps towards combating it.

(Article Excerpt and Image from Udall pushes legislation to manage runoff of polluted storm water, The, 16 November 2013)