Are our MS4 stormwater inspections helping our water quality?

Updated: Mar 17

As one caught up in the conversation about stormwater, I find it useful sometimes to step back and remember that there is a goal in mind to all the technical requirements, all the design constraints, all the inspections, and all the paperwork. That goal is improving stormwater quality. So, are we improving stormwater quality?

Although it has rained for millennia, interestingly we have only gotten serious about stormwater quality very recently (glacially speaking). With the passage of the 1972 Clean Water Act, you'd think that we would have gotten to ensuring stormwater quality right away, like on Tuesday, January 2, 1973. But that didn't happen. The CWA was a multi-faceted piece of legislation, and we really only started to design and enforce stormwater requirements maybe 40 years ago. In that time, we've done a lot of learning. In fact, we are still learning and trying to find ways to make our designs, our methodologies, our maintenance, and our enforcement better.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has been studying the effectiveness of suburban stormwater management practices (BMPs) and has found some interesting outcomes. While I won't list those things here (you can read about them in the link below), I will comment that the list does prove that our efforts are making a difference. Is that difference good? Not sure. However, at least we can deduce from the report that our efforts do alter the quality of water. It appears that the next goal is to make sure that we are altering it, and the wildlife affected, for the better.

Sounds like our work is not done.

You can read the entire text of the report here: USGS Water Quality Report





Tacoma, WA

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