Protecting Local Quality of Life by Managing Stormwater

Problems from stormwater vary in severity, depending on soil and surface water conditions and on the way people use land and other resources. But unless stormwater runoff is controlled, it always harms the local quality of life, whether through high-visibility occurrences such as floods and washouts or through subtler and more pervasive losses, like degradation of drinking water, swimming or fishing or a general weakening of natural systems, with loss of native species and increase of invasive species.

The state/federal stormwater program provides a framework to help localities manage stormwater effectively and protect the quality of life. When stormwater runoff is kept to pre-development amounts and quality, benefits accrue throughout the local community and beyond.

  • Public health is protected when water is kept clean for drinking, contact recreation, and the harvest of fish, shellfish, and other edible resources; reducing the physical hazards of flooding, erosion, and subsidence also protects public health.
  • The environment improves when pollution and sedimentation of water bodies are reduced and groundwater recharge is increased. Important biological resources, natural habitats, and ecosystems become healthier and more productive.
  • The local economy reaps numerous benefits, including protection for property values (by avoiding flooding, erosion, and related costs to property owners, and by buffering developed areas from flooding); promotion of sustainable resources; improved tourism attracted by stable beaches and banks, clean swimming areas and successful fishing.
  • Local governance benefits when the community determines stormwater management goals and oversees construction/post-construction measures, as well as when local citizens participate in stormwater management decisions.