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WE&RF Awards Research Contract to Examine the Effectiveness of Urban Tree Systems on Stormwater Quality

October 6, 2017 (Alexandria, VA) - The Water Environment & Reuse Foundation (WE&RF) awarded a contract to Kansas State University to begin research on Incorporating Forestry into Stormwater Management Programs: State of the Science and Business Model Evaluation for Nutrient Reduction and Volume Control (SIWM12C15). The research will address the needs of the water management community by analyzing empirical evidence regarding the potential effectiveness of urban tree systems to contribute to stormwater quality improvement. The project is co-funded by WE&RF and the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, Inc.

This project will benefit the stormwater community through a synthesis and meta-analysis of literature, data, and existing programs to better understand the hydrologic and water quality impacts of urban tree systems to regulate stormwater quantity and quality. Urban tree systems may serve as a stormwater control mechanism to reduce overland flow and associated pollutant load, as trees/forests produce much less surface runoff and offer higher infiltration rates. Additional information is needed to develop policies and stormwater management plans involving urban tree systems, and to determine their cost-benefit as stormwater infrastructure.

The research team will document the contribution of trees and urban forests to urban stormwater nutrient load reduction and volume control at various scales. They will also examine the costs, benefits, and practicality of incorporating trees and forests into stormwater management programs. The research has three main objectives:

• Quantify contributions of  urban tree systems to stormwater quality and volume control at various scales.
• Understand the cost implications of urban tree systems relative to other stormwater infrastructure practices and their value.
• Develop programmatic strategies and catalog existing curricula that may be adapted for use to integrate trees and urban forests in stormwater management programs.

To achieve these objectives, the research team will focus proposed data synthesis and programmatic review tasks primarily on urban tree systems. The research seeks to achieve a synergy between stormwater management and urban forestry efforts and identify opportunities to enhance hydrologic and water quality functions in structural green infrastructure practices.

The project is anticipated to be completed in 2018.

The Water Environment & Reuse Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit organization, funds research, pilot projects, and technology demonstrations that maximize the value of water, including wastewater, stormwater, and other water sources. WE&RF is recognized worldwide as a trusted source of innovation and peer-reviewed research in wastewater, water reuse, and resource recovery.