Research Objectives

This modern design with a scupper that artfully conveys runoff through a channel to a drywell enhances an urban courtyard.

This project ultimately seeks to address concerns of the WERF subscriber group related to the stormwater program area. In particular, the goal was to understand and document factors that may provide the necessary conditions for successful adoption of water quality best management practices (BMPs) in local communities. To date, most of the literature has focused on engineering requirements for selected BMPs, rather than the 'human' and 'design' factors that may be necessary for successful implementation.

The research group addressed several key questions pertaining to BMP implementation successes and failures and what different stakeholders value, including:

  • What are the motivations for BMP implementation?
  • What incentives can communities offer to encourage BMP implementation?
  • Which parties have the drive to exert pressure and aid in BMP implementation?
  • How should BMPs be tailored to different settings (regional, public vs. private, etc.) and community needs and preferences?
  • Should water quality and stormwater management functions be obvious or hidden in BMP designs?
  • How do we appeal to engineers, planners, and designers to modify their approach to stormwater from treating it as a waste product to treating it as a resource?

The research team hoped to be able to:

  • Discuss in depth several key issues that affect whether communities can reach a high level of BMP acceptance and success
  • Begin to develop guiding principles that will help practitioners achieve better results
  • Identify case study examples that embody these principles

Project Implementation

This research project was executed in three phases.

Phase 1: Identification of Community Goals and Potential Case Study Inventory
During this phase the research group attempted to define how to measure community goals as well as public acceptance of stormwater BMPs, with the aid of a project expert panel. The panel consisted of approximately 20 members from multiple areas of expertise related to stormwater management. A candidate sample of municipalities for inclusion in the case study research was developed along with a site visit protocol.

Art meets function in this small-scale BMP in Portland.

Phase 2: Screening, Ranking, and Case Study Development
The second phase of implementation involved an evaluation of the candidate study sample against a number of criteria that reflect its contribution to the research. Ultimately, 12 case study sites were selected, representing a variety of situations and geographic conditions, including some communities that have not been successful in implementing BMPs. The research team conducted site visits (or made phone calls when site visits were not feasible) and drafted preliminary reports to record the experiences of the various locations.

Phase 3: Documentation of Key Factors Contributing to Success and Prepare Final Products
Finally, the research team analyzed the case studies to identify common relationships that influence success, including agency coordination/communications practices, capital and maintenance expenditures, and approaches to public education that raise awareness and public acceptance. The team, in collaboration with the expert panel members and WERF staff, decided that a website would be the most appropriate way to disseminate research findings. Content was created from case study analysis and panel discussions to communicate the research findings.

Panel Discussions

Over the course of the project, two meetings of the expert panel were hosted by the research team to examine some of the issues related to BMP implementation and factors of success. These discussions provided a wealth of information that was used, along with the case study examinations, to create the final products for the project.

Final Product

As mentioned above, a website was selected as the method for disseminating research findings from this project. The web site was developed to provide information about the project as a whole and to document the key factors impacting the successful integration of stormwater management practices that protect and enhance water resources. These practices include traditional best management practices (BMPs) and also a growing repertoire of structural and non-structural methods for directing and treating stormwater.

The website includes basic principles and development suggestions covered during the two panel discussions, as well as information about the case studies investigated during the research period. Additional information is included in the form of links to outside resources. Several resources identified during the panel discussions will also be developed and linked to the site.


The following people contributed ideas and content to the Using Rainwater to Grow Livable Communities Website:

WERF Project Managers

Jeff Moeller, WERF
Christy Terhune, WERF

Project Team

Jane Kulik, Wenk Associates, Co-Principal Investigator
Leslie Shoemaker, Tetra Tech, Inc., Co-Principal Investigator
Martina Keefe, Tetra Tech, Inc., Project Coordinator
Penny Dimler, Tetra Tech, Inc.
Dacia Mosso, Tetra Tech, Inc.
Valerie Ober, Tetra Tech, Inc.
Ron Ohrel, Tetra Tech, Inc.
Willis Rosenfeld, Tetra Tech, Inc.
Regina Scheibner, Tetra Tech, Inc.

Project Subcommittee

Randal Arendt, Greener Prospects
Tony Dawood, Loudoun County Sanitation Authority
Linda Dobson, City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services
Stuart Echols, Pennsylvania State University
Emily Hauth, City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services
Tom Liptan, City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services
Brian Marengo, Philadelphia Water Department, PSC Chair and Research Council Liaison
William Shuster, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Peter Stahre, Malmo Water and Wastewater Works
Robert Traver, Villanova University Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Workshop Panel Members

Warren Byrd, Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects
Tom Cahill, T.H. Cahill & Associates
Bruce Ferguson, University of Georgia School of Environmental Design
Wes Horner, T.H. Cahill & Associates
Andy Karvonen, University of Texas at Austin
Carol Mayer-Reed, Mayer/Reed
Jenny Molloy, USEPA
Jim Patchett, Conservation Design Forum
Fred Rozumalski, Barr Engineering
Neil Weinstein, Low Impact Development Center
William Wenk, Wenk Associates
Kennon Williams, Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects
David Yocca, Conservation Design Forum

The following people and organizations contributed to a secondary update of the Using Rainwater to Grow Livable Communities Website:

Project Subcommittee (PSC) Members

Len Wright, Ph.D., P.E., D.WRE, Consultant
Jennifer Molloy, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Tracy Tackett, P.E., Seattle Public Utilities
James Patchett, RLA, LEED AP, Conservation Design Forum
Valerie Nelson, Ph.D., Coalition for Alternative Wastewater Treatment
John Phillips, King County Dept of Natural Resources & Parks
LeAnne Astin, Fairfax County

WERF Staff

Jeff Moeller, Senior Program Director

Project Team

Low Impact Development Center
Tetra Tech
Clean Water America Alliance
The Edgecomb Group


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