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Best Management Practices (BMPs)

Picture of flood water.
Water Runoff from Flooding

Stormwater

In the past, it was felt “dilution is the solution to pollution.” If people got rid of it quickly enough and far enough away, it would no longer be a problem. In cities and towns, we focused on sewers to ferry and treat human or commercial waste. They used storm sewers for rainwater and snow. In all cases, they have designed convenient ways to ferry water into the nearest water body. Unfortunately, we have discovered that dilution is not the solution for stormwater and its pollutants.

Best Management Practices (BMPs) is a term used to describe a type of water pollution control. Stormwater BMPs are techniques, measures or structural controls used to manage the quantity and improve the quality of stormwater runoff. The goal is to reduce or eliminate the contaminants collected by stormwater as it moves into streams and rivers. EPA researchers are working to maintain the water quality, which protects both the environment and the public.

Once pollutants are present in a waterbody altering its physical makeup and habitat, it is much more difficult and expensive to restore it. Therefore, the use of BMPs that prevent damage to receiving waters is our target. Stormwater pollution has two main components:

  • the increased volume and rate of runoff from water resistant surfaces, such as roads and parking lots, and
  • the amount of pollutants in the runoff.

Both components are directly related to urban development. They can cause changes in water quality. This results in a variety of problems:

  • environment modification and loss,
  • increased flooding,
  • decreased native wildlife, and
  • increased sedimentation and erosion.

In turn, effective management of stormwater runoff offers a multitude of benefits:

  • protection of wetlands and ecosystems,
  • improved water quality of streams, rivers and other water bodies,
  • protection of water resources,
  • protection of public health, and
  • flood control.

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