Jump to main content or area navigation.

Contact Us

Aging Water Infrastructure (AWI) Research


A vital part of  EPA research is working with internal and external stakeholders.  Collaboration produces new ideas, designs, technologies and techniques needed.

Community-Scale Studies

rain garden established to reduce sewer overflowKansas City, Missouri - This study focuses on combined sewer systems problems. These sewers collect rainwater runoff, domestic sewage, and industrial wastewater in the same pipe. During periods of heavy rainfall or snow melt, the sewer system or treatment plant may not be able to handle the larger amount of wastewater. This creates runoff that pollutes streams and rivers . This study demonstrates the usefulness and sustainability of using green infrastructure approaches in an urban neighborhood to control runoff. These practices can be used  nation-wide.

Collaborators: EPA, the Kansas City Water Services Department, Tetra Tech, Inc., the University of Alabama-Tuscaloosa, the University of Missouri - Kansas City, the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC), and Bergmann Associates, Inc.

US EPA. (2009 ). Factsheet: “Demonstration of Green/Gray Infrastructure for Combined Sewer Overflow Control,” (PDF) (2 pp, 184 KB) Publication No. EPA/600/F-09/039.

Louisville, Kentucky - The Louisville/Jefferson County Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) wants  to reduce the number and size of combined sewer overflows. Overflows can potentially pollute our streams, lakes, and beaches with untreated sewage. MSD will manage overflows using green infrastructure (GI) approaches where the cost is less than the cost of a storage tank alternative. The MSD and EPA are monitoring and documenting the GI approaches.

Collaborators:  Louisville Jefferson County MSD, EPA, the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and URS Group  to monitor stormwater controls in identified drainage combined sewer basins.

Cincinnati, Ohio - The Lick Run watershed is home to the largest combined sewer overflow system in Hamilton County. Every year, about 1.7 billion gallons of raw sewage - mixed with stormwater - spills into the Mill Creek, which affects downstream water quality.  The Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati and EPA  are working to remove stormwater discharge from the pipe and return the Lick Run to its natural state.

Cleveland, Ohio - This study is an effort to reduce stormwater runoff and improve water quality in an urban watershed. The government and citizens will come together to discuss how to manage stormwater.

US EPA. (2011). Factsheet: “Adaptive Management for Urban Watersheds: The Slavic Village Pilot Project,” (PDF) (2 pp,277 KB) Publication No. EPA/600/F-11/01

Top of page

Site-Scale Demonstration Projects

Green Infrastructure

U.S. EPA Cincinnati – This project  will evaluate a wide range of green infrastructure practices for managing stormwater. A monitoring program with rain gauges, wells and other devices will show performance and overall site effectiveness.

Cincinnati State Technical and Community College – Sensors and flow monitoring devices have been placed in three porous pavement parking cells. Over the next several years, data will be collected to evaluate the performance of these systems. Information and technical guidance on system maintenance and operation will be developed.

Cincinnati Public Schools:  Clark Montessori High School – EPA is evaluating the effectiveness of the high schools porous concrete and rain gardens.  They are using moisture sensors and subsurface water level measurement devices.
Collaborators: Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS), Cincinnati MSD, and EPA

poruous pavement parking log demonstration siteUS EPA Edison, NJ: Porous Pavement Parking Lot Demonstration Site - This project provides measurements that will enable scientists to determine whether permeable surfaces will help cities:

  • cool more effectively during summer evenings than areas paved with conventional surfaces;
  • reduce stormwater runoff; and
  • improve water quality by removing solids and other environmental contaminants

All of the rain falling on the parking lot will infiltrate into the soil with no runoff, reducing the environmental footprint. The results of this study will provide much needed design and performance information to the regulated community to enable better decisions associated with their stormwater management programs.

US EPA. (2010). “Surface Infiltration Rates of Permeable Surfaces: Six Month Update, November 2009 through April 2010,” (PDF) (29 pp, 187 MB) Publication No. EPA/600/R-10/08.

US EPA. (2009). Fact sheet - "Design/Construction of a Permeable Pavement Demonstration Site at EEC," (PDF) (2 pp, 195 KB) Publication No. EPA/600/F-09/038.

Green EPA: Experimental Stormwater Parking Lot
Parking Lot Opening Ceremony (YouTube, 3:23 minutes)

US EPA Edison, NJ: Rain Gardens -  EPA recognizes the potential of rain gardens as tool to lessen the effects of water runoff. This demonstration measures rain gardens' ability to infiltrate stormwater to groundwater.

Stander, E.K. and M. Borst. (2010). "Hydraulic Test of a Media Carbon Amendment." Journal of Hydrologic Engineering. American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), Reston, VA, 15(6):531-536.

O'Connor, T., A. Rowe, E. Stander, and M. Borst. (2010)."Application of Time Domain Reflectometers in Urban Settings." Cities and the Environment. Urban Ecology Institute, Chestnut Hill, MA, 3(1):19.

Greening EPA: Experimental Rain Garden
Permeable Parking Lot Rain Garden Project (YouTube, 3:27 minutes)

Condition Assessment Technologies for Wastewater Collection Systems

The goal was to evaluate the technical performance and cost of these condition assessment technologies:  

  • zoom camera,
  • electro-scanning,
  • digital scanning,
  • laser profiling,
  • and sonar.

Each technology identified maintenance and structural defects by collecting data or images of the pipe condition. Total costs for the multi-sensor inspection were $4.21 per foot of pipeline inspected as compared to $2.95 per foot for electro-scanning, $0.99 per foot zoom camera, and $2.80 to $3.00 for CCTV.
Collaborator:  Kansas City, Missouri Water Services Department

US EPA. (2011). “Field Demonstration of Condition Assessment Technologies for Wastewater Collection Systems,” (PDF) (120 pp, 3.6 MB) Publication No. EPA/600/R-11/078

Top of page

Workshops and Seminars

Advanced Asset Management Training Workshops: The Fundamentals of Asset Management: A Hands-On Approach – Many communities need help with their capital assets. This workshop was designed as a hands-on class to address the AM challenge thru a real-world storyline. The workshop demonstrated:
  • Dealing with  difficult asset-driven problems;
  • Giving participant exercises that demonstrate the concepts, techniques, and tools; and
  • Providing case-based mentoring by AM experts.

EPA Regional Science Workshop on Stormwater Management – This workshop provided internal collaboration between EPA's Office of Research and Development (ORD) and Regions 1 and 3. The focus was discussion of future research needs. Topics discussed included:

  • National Research Council's report,
  • stormwater management,
  • the next  action plan for Chesapeake Bay, and
  • new  stormwater guidelines and permits.

Adapting Flood and Urban Drainage Systems to a Changing Climate – This workshop brought together leading specialists from Europe and the U.S. to review the potential drivers, impacts and responses for urban water and flood risk management systems. The goals of the workshop were:

  • to experiences dealing with  adaptation of urban water and flood risk management systems in relation to climate and other changes;
  • review the use of structural and non-structural measures (including low impact development and GI approaches) within the context of diverse organizational and regulatory regimes across the participants' areas of work;
  • define how future collaboration between the U.S., Europe and Australia may be further promoted and what potential areas of mutual benefit should be further explored.

Extending the Nation's Water Supply: Overcoming Barriers to Innovative Water Infrastructures –This workshop was about water reuse. Water reuse is reusing treated wastewater for beneficial purposes such as irrigation and industrial processes. Water recycling offers resource and financial savings. The results of the workshop will provide the user community with technical data, guidance, and decision support tools to improve their water.
Participants:  water reuse experts from universities, water utilities, consulting engineering and government.

First National Expert and Stakeholder Workshop on Water Infrastructure Sustainability and Adaptation to Climate Change –This workshop discussed water and wastewater utilities issues in adapting to climate change.  Climate change will have a large effect on water utilities and EPA is exploring ways to help them adapt and manage water infrastructure. The infrastructure built today will be in place for decades to come, and infrastructure planning decisions are being made each day.

Nutrient Control at Municipal Wastewater Treatment Plants –This seminar provided technology design guidance for nitrogen and phosphorus control. The topics presented were:

  • impacts of nutrient containing effluents and emissions;
  • related nutrient control regulations;
  • new technologies;
  • capital and O & M costs;
  • local case studies; and
  • research needs.

Target Audience:  wastewater utilities, state, EPA permit writers and environmental engineers.

Top of page

Jump to main content.