Jump to Navigation

stormwater runoff

Virginia Lake Water Quality Data for improvement projects

Datasets shown were gathered by the City's Hydrologist, Ecological Research Associates, Nevada Division of Environmental Protection, and MaxDepth Aquatics.
Analyses were provided by the TMWRF lab, Sierra Environmental Monitoring, and Ecoanalysts.
For project description and other background information, please visit the project website. http://www.truckeeriverinfo.org/project/virginia-lake-water-quality-improvement-project

Thank you.

Cooperative mainstem lower Truckee WQ program

Town of Truckee Annual Report for the Implementation of the Truckee River Water Quality Monitoring Plan, Water Year 2010

As a Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4), the Town of Truckee

(Town) must comply with the State’s general National Pollutant Discharge

Elimination System (NPDES) permit for stormwater discharges. In accordance with

these regulations, the Town has developed a Storm Water Management Program

(SWMP) which was required by the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board

Placer County and Town of Truckee: Final Joint Annual Monitoring Report for the Implementation of the Truckee River Monitoring Plan, Water Year 2011


This Joint Annual Monitoring Report describes the monitoring activities performed by Placer County and the Town of Truckee during WY 2011 and presents their results. Data collection activities during this second year of the TRWQMP’s implementation included:

  • Community level (stormwater runoff) discrete water quality sampling within the Truckee Town Corridor and the Martis Creek sub-watersheds,
  • Tributary level discrete water quality sampling within the Martis Creek watershed, and
  • Continuous discharge monitoring on Martis Creek.

No rapid assessments or bioassessments were performed during WY 2011.

Runoff as resource instead of problem

Deborah K. Rich, SF Gate, Special to The SF Chronicle
Saturday, December 6, 2008

"The first year we were here, the water would just sheet down from the property higher up the slope, and this area would be mud. I couldn't even walk out here; it was just slosh and goop," she said.

Her home is near Occidental in Sonoma County, which can receive 60 inches of rain a year. "My husband and I were wondering what we were going to do, and how we were going to figure this out."

Davison met a teacher at her sons' school whose husband, Erik Ohlsen, had recently launched Permaculture Artisans, a landscape design and installation business.

Permaculture - the word plays on "permanent culture" and "permanent agriculture" - strives for sustainability by incorporating ecological cycles and principles into land altered for human use. Ohlsen took his first permaculture class in 1999 from Brock Dolman, who directs the Water Institute at the Occidental Arts & Ecology Center.

Interaction with water in the landscape has become fundamental to Ohlsen's permaculture design practice.

"I was inspired by the concepts of water harvesting, ecological watershed management practices and erosion control and everything to do with water in Brock's course," Ohlsen said. The storm water that turned the property into muck could instead provide a foundation for the garden Davison wanted.

"The Davisons were clear that they wanted an ecological landscape that provided food for their family," Ohlsen said. "Water harvesting wasn't something they had foreknowledge of, but the way we design ecological gardens, water harvesting is always the first piece designed into the system."

Swales and berms
Ohlsen used a small excavator to build a series of parallel swales (a shallow ditch) and berms (a raised area adjacent to the swale) on contour (meaning that they lie across slope, their elevation remaining constant). He dug the first swale along the upper property line and the last where the property levels off.

Each swale is roughly 5 feet wide; its adjoining berm is 2 1/2 feet tall and 6 feet wide. A smaller berm lies across the end of each swale to prevent water from running out the end of the swale.

The swales and berms harvest rainwater by pooling and slowing the water on its downhill course, giving it time and space to soak into the soil. Rock-lined spillways connect the swales and allow water to flow from one to the next if the water pools in the swale more than 8 inches.

In the Davisons' loamy soil, all the rainwater will generally soak into the swale where it is caught, and water will spill from one swale to the next only during a very heavy rain. "We design for catastrophe," Ohlsen said of the oversize catchment systems. Encouraging Davison and her boys to work along with him, Ohlsen planted the berms with an eye toward both feeding the family and creating a self-sustaining ecosystem.

"We chose plants that provide multiple functions - for example, leguminous plants which can provide edible pods while, at the same time, fixing nitrogen in the soil and attracting beneficial insects and hummingbirds, which can then manage pests," Ohlsen said.

For entire article, please visit website.

Proposed Guidelines to Control Pollution from Construction Sites

EPA News Release date: 11/19/2008
Contact Information: Enesta Jones, (202) 564-4355 / jones.enesta@epa.gov

(Washington, D.C. – Nov. 19, 2008) EPA is seeking comments on its proposed guidelines to control the discharge of pollutants from construction sites. The proposal would require all construction sites to implement erosion and sediment control best management practices to reduce pollutants in stormwater discharges.

"This proposal builds a foundation for cleaner streams and greener neighborhoods through improved treatment technologies and prevention practices," said Benjamin H. Grumbles, EPA’s assistant administrator for water.

In addition, for certain large sites located in areas of the country with high rainfall intensity and soils with a high clay content, stormwater discharges from the construction site would be required to meet a numeric limit on the allowable level of turbidity, which is a measure of sediment in the water. In order to meet the proposed numeric turbidity limit, many sites would need to treat and filter their stormwater discharges.

Construction activities such as clearing, excavating and grading significantly disturb the land. The disturbed soil, if not managed properly, can easily be washed off the construction site during storms and enter streams, lakes, and other waters. Stormwater discharges from construction activities can cause an array of physical, chemical and biological impacts.

Sediment is one of the leading causes of water quality impairment nationwide, including reducing water depth in small streams, lakes and reservoirs.

Information on the proposal and review: http://www.epa.gov/ost/guide/construction/

Erosion properties tested on pile burn footprints

Project is the first of its kind in the Tahoe Basin
By Nick Cruit, Sierra Sun, 10/28/08

Drea Traeumer of Em Consulting performs a dye test while Micheal Ukraine, Rachel Arst, and Tim Delaney of Integrated Environmental Restoration Services collect data at a prescribed burn site on Dollar Hill in Tahoe City. The research crew is studying the effects of prescribed burns on erosion and sediment runoff into Lake Tahoe.
Seth Lightcap/Sierra SunA team of scientists meticulously monitored water flowing down a dusty rill Monday as they conducted experiments in the scorched remains of a recently burned pile of brush near Lake Tahoe.

As part of the first-ever in-depth experiments to determine how prescribed forest burning affects soil erosion in the Tahoe Basin, the team from Integrated Environmental Restoration Services and Em Consulting tested charred craters left by last week’s pile burns near Chinquapin Condominiums in Tahoe City.

Though the test spot is no bigger than the rain shadow left by a car, the impact of their data will effect how decisions are made throughout the Tahoe Basin.

Having already monitored baseline conditions before Calfire’s prescribed burn project, Em Consulting Hydrologist Drea Traeumer and Integrated Environmental scientists teamed up to run rain and rill simulators directly on the footprint of the burned piles.

While the effects of fuels reduction programs on soil properties cause tension around Lake Tahoe, Integrated Environmental rain simulators hope to shed light on the potential for erosion problems caused by water flow.

“We are happy to cooperate with the project,” said North Tahoe Fire Protection District Forest Fuels Program Manager Stewart McMorrow, who helped oversee the prescribed pile burns last week. “It’s important to know what the true effects of pile burning are.”

Discussing a slow environmental process like erosion often causes conflict because it is not easily seen. Hoping to provide “facts, not opinions,” the Integrated Environmental project is a step towards educated management level environmental decisions.

“There’s a lot of dialogue from people who think they know what’s going to happen,” said Kevin Drake Monitoring Manager for Integrated Environmental. “We’re coming up with a body of data to have dialogue with concrete information.”

Data taken from the post-burn tests is only the beginning of a complicated process.

For entire article, please visit website below.

A Paradox of Nature: Designing rain gardens to be dry

By Kevin Beuttell, Stormwater E-Magazine, October 2008

Despite the proven environmental benefits of rain gardens, many people are reluctant to use them because they can be unattractive. But a close examination of the relationships between hydrology and vegetation in rain gardens suggests a solution for improving their looks and their function. Rather than think of rain gardens primarily as wet environments, we should design them as dry environments that experience only brief wet periods. This shift in thinking increases opportunities for ornamental planting without sacrificing environmental performance.

Rain gardens are one of the most frequently cited and promising strategies for managing stormwater responsibly, and because of the ubiquitous presence of impervious surfaces, these systems can be used on virtually any type of site. Rain gardens come in many forms (and go by many names, such as bioswale, bioretention, and bioinfiltration), but for the purposes of this article, the term “rain garden” is essentially meant to describe a shallow depressional area designed to use the natural capacities of soil and vegetation to retain, cleanse, and infiltrate stormwater.

The Pros of the Rain Garden
Infiltration-based stormwater management strategies, such as rain gardens, are crucial to downstream ecological health. Every parcel of land interacts with water. If water infiltrates, it can be used as a resource to nourish plants and replenish aquifers. When water runs off driveways, roads, and compacted soils, however, it becomes a liability, carrying sediments and pollutants downstream. The USEPA states that nonpoint sources, such as stormwater runoff from an urbanized landscape, are the leading causes of urban stream water-quality problems. To help, many designers are looking toward landscape solutions to water-quality and flooding problems, altering land surface functions to manipulate the way in which the land captures and absorbs stormwater.

Many other stormwater management techniques address only a portion of the problems caused by stormwater runoff. Rain gardens, however, have the potential to solve all the problems of stormwater runoff before they occur. Like other infiltration-based strategies, rain gardens mitigate the hazardous stormwater runoff aspects of development by decreasing peak flows responsible for storm surges and flooding. They reduce pollutant discharges, minimize streambank erosion, replenish groundwater, and restore base flows and aquatic habitats. Rain gardens can also offer real development cost savings by eliminating expensive belowground stormwater infrastructure in favor of combining stormwater management with ornamental landscapes.

Rain gardens can also help with temperature pollution problems. In a completely natural setting, water enters a stream or other water body almost entirely through groundwater that provides steady flows at low temperatures. But when development introduces impervious surfaces, higher temperatures often result as the runoff washes over those warmer surfaces. Higher temperatures, in turn, cause the loss of a diverse system of aquatic biota in receiving streams, ponds, and rivers that are sensitive to the warmer water.

Because of effects like these, traditional urban stormwater management has always viewed water as a burden on the landscape. Water is typically taken away through channels and pipes as quickly as possible to avoid flooding on site. But water and ecological quality can be improved when water is allowed to infiltrate, using it as a resource where it falls.

The (Perceived) Cons of the Rain Garden
Attractive and functional rain gardens are the exception, not the rule. Most rain garden installations do not include those elements that are culturally accepted as beautiful, like lush green lawns, flowering vegetation throughout the growing season, clean lines, and a maintained appearance. As a result, people see these landscapes as cluttered, unkempt, and unmanaged. Perceptions are just as important as environmental performance. If rain gardens are not perceived as attractive, cared-for environments, they will not be adopted during the design phase or managed after installation. Although preferences vary from person to person, a common theme for all is an appearance that communicates care to the viewer.

People design and manage landscapes as a reflection of who they are and how they want to be perceived. Too often, rain gardens planted with water-loving species appear unkempt and abandoned. Individual plants are often stressed and weak, particularly in areas that experience hot and dry summers. The negative perception of their ornamental character is an obstacle to their use in both new and retrofit development projects. Because many rain gardens do not come close to the ornamental quality of more traditional garden landscapes (especially from the perspective of the general public, who may be largely unaware of the environmental benefits), they are not a viable option in visually prominent areas of a site such as in parking lots or at site and building entrances. In high-visibility areas, environmental performance alone is not enough. Because one cannot see the ecological functioning of the root systems, water infiltrating through soil, and wildlife’s benefits from the landscape, it is difficult to include an ecological assessment in our judgment of landscape’s appearance. So rain gardens are not used, or are relegated to areas of the site where their messy appearance will not offend.

For entire article, please visit website.

EPA faulted on waterway pollution from sprawl

"EPA faulted on waterway pollution from sprawl"

Source: Directly, Department of Water Resources' California Water News online, October 16, 2008

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Environmental Protection Agency is failing to stem the pollution washing into waterways from cities and suburbs, the National Academy of Sciences reported Wednesday. The report's authors urged "radical changes" in how the federal government regulates stormwater runoff so that all waters are clean enough for fishing and swimming.

"The take-home message is the program as it has been implemented in the last 18 to 20 years has largely been a failure, said Xavier Swamikannu, one of the authors and the head of Los Angeles' stormwater program for the California Environmental Protection Agency.

Stormwater runoff is the toxic brew of oil, fertilizers and trash picked up by rain and snowmelt as the water flows over parking lots, roofs and subdivisions.

The report said responsibility for managing stormwater must shift from developers to local governments, and permits should be issued on the boundaries of a watershed, rather than state borders. Such a change probably would require a new law and take between five years to 10
years, the report said.

While urban areas cover only 3 percent of the U.S., it is estimated that their runoff is the primary source of pollution in 13 percent of rivers, 18 percent of lakes and 32 percent of estuaries.

Current law is ill-equipped to deal with the problem, the authors said.

Congress required the EPA in 1987 to start issuing permits under the Clean Water Act to industrial and construction sites. But lawmakers changed the focus on water pollution, from industrial discharges and sewage pipes to runoff, a problem that is much larger and harder to
pinpoint. The law is designed to target specific contaminants, when the problem with stormwater often is one of volume. A surge of water after a storm can cause streams to erode and fill waterways with sediment.

Benjamin H. Grumbles, the EPA's assistant administrator for water, said the findings underscored the approaches the EPA is taking. The agency requested the review in 2006, but Grumbles disagreed on Wednesday with the conclusion that the stormwater program was failing.

"We want to accelerate the progress on reducing pollution and managing stormwater. We believe sound science, pollution prevention, and watershed protection will ensure continued clean water progress," he said.

The National Academy of Sciences is a private organization chartered by Congress to advise the government of scientific matters.

Syndicate content