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In Our Opinion

Stormwater - Beneficial Resource or a Contaminant? Infiltrate With Caution

Mary Musick, PG, Senior Water Policy Advisor, Ground Water Protection Council
Chuck Job, MEn, MAE, LEED BC&D, Regulatory Affairs Manager, National Ground Water Association


Stormwater is a valuable resource that, with proper infiltration, can provide new groundwater resources or supplement groundwater quantity. Thus, it can be a significant water source for many managed aquifer recharge facilities.[1] The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is encouraging subsurface infiltration of stormwater (including the disposal of contaminated stormwater) to protect surface water quality.[2] This infiltration can have an additional benefit of recharging groundwater aquifers[3]. We think stormwater Best Management Practices (BMPs) (including ongoing maintenance and monitoring) should be encouraged and designed to conserve and protect both surface water and groundwater resources. However, we recognize that more research is needed regarding groundwater quality impacts of stormwater infiltration, identifying appropriate BMPs for different hydrogeologic settings and climate conditions, and aquifer-protective infiltration designs.[4],[5] 


A total “one-water” management approach that promotes the protection of valuable water resources (surface water and groundwater) should be encouraged and based on sound research that looks at stormwater enhancement of both water quality and water resource factors, rather than an approach that focuses on narrow stove-piped permitting efforts. Stormwater and its potential to enhance groundwater resources should be viewed as a resource of broad utility to communities rather than a nuisance and a waste to be quickly disposed.

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