Funding will be used for water infrastructure research in the Colorado & Virginia
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced $3.9 million in funding to two institutions to research innovative, cost-effective technologies to manage storm water runoff and combined sewer overflows.
Colorado School of Mines received $1.95 million to develop a decision support tool to help communities evaluate alternative storm water treatment technologies that consider diverse climates, regional practices and policies across the country. The tool will evaluate options and risks as well as life cycle costs associated with improving storm water runoff management using green, gray and hybrid infrastructure. Colorado School of Mines will also create resources and hold workshops to conduct training sessions for these tools.
“EPA has done extensive research on green infrastructure to ensure the availability and quality of water in the United States,” said Thomas A. Burke, EPA science advisor and deputy assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “These grants will take this work a step further by developing green infrastructure technologies and providing an understanding of the full costs of using these new technologies over time.”
As water flows through storm drains, it carries many pollutants that end up in streams, rivers, ponds, lakes and oceans. Additionally, combined sewers carry sewage and storm water runoff in the same pipe and when these exceed capacity, untreated water can be released into nearby waterways. Using the funding provided through these grants, researchers will produce tools and models to help communities evaluate the optimal mix of technologies to treat storm water with less energy, less expense and less burden on the environment. They will also research the possibility of reusing the cleaner water to help meet communities’ needs.
“Our decision support tool will help advance urban water management across the U.S. through integration of new green infrastructure technologies and by allowing decision makers to have access to state-of-the art tools, data sources and life cycle information,” said Professor Terri Hogue, lead investigator at Colorado School of Mines.
Due to aging water infrastructure systems and regulatory requirements, storm water management is an expensive challenge for many communities. The awardees will focus on the most cost-effective options like green infrastructure, practices that enhance natural ecological functions, such as growing gardens on roofs or building artificial ponds, to help manage storm water and combined sewer overflows. Green infrastructure can replenish groundwater, provide flood control, add green spaces and parks, and revitalize neighborhoods.
The Water Environment Research Foundation in Alexandria, Va. Also received $1.9 million to develop a life cycle cost and analysis framework, a publically accessible tool and database and a guide for decision makers that includes case studies.