Category: Stormwater management

Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy Biennial Report 2021

Download the document.

The Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy 2021 Biennial Report is the third report
to provide the public with updates on the implementation of the Illinois Nutrient Loss
Reduction Strategy, released in 2015. The strategy continues to be guided by Illinois
Environmental Protection Agency, Illinois Department of Agriculture, and University of
Illinois Extension, with input and feedback from the Policy Working Group and several other stakeholder groups and councils. This biennial report provides a 2019-20 overview of the efforts and investments made in reducing nutrient loss to Illinois waterways from source sectors: agriculture, point sources, and urban stormwater.

10 Years of Innovative Stormwater Solutions: The Campus RainWorks Challenge Brings the Next Generation of Environmentalists to the Table

Read the full story from U.S. EPA.

In 2012, EPA’s Office of Water began the Campus RainWorks Challenge, a green infrastructure design competition open to undergraduate and graduate students at colleges and universities in the United States and its territories. The challenge requires multidisciplinary student teams specializing in engineering, landscape architecture, life sciences, and other disciplines to identify a stormwater management problem on campus or at a local elementary or high school. Student teams work with a faculty advisor to help design green infrastructure solutions. Students can compete in either of the challenge’s two competition categories, demonstration projects or master plan. Demonstration projects focus on site specific applications for green infrastructure. Master plan entries apply green infrastructure across a broader area of campus.

Since the inception of this challenge, more than 700 teams from 272 academic institutions across 48 states and Puerto Rico have participated. The challenge helps EPA engage the next generation of environmental professionals and showcases the environmental, economic, and social benefits of green infrastructure practices.

This porous pavement helps prevent flooding by absorbing rain

Read the full story in Fast Company.

When cities are covered in pavement, they more easily flood because stormwater can’t get into the ground. This alternative has tiny little holes to let rainwater through, while keeping pollution out.

Water Survey helps Cook County manage stormwater

Read the full story from the Prairie Research Institute.

Experts from the Illinois State Water Survey have been working since 2015 with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD), supporting MWRD in making informed watershed management decisions for its vast service area that includes 128 suburban communities in Cook County. 

The first two phases of this long-term project have had a major impact on development throughout the region and helped define one of the most visible aspects of stormwater management: detention requirements. 

Webinar: Developing a Land Acquisition Strategy

May 28, 2020 1 pm
Register here.

What does it take to close a deal and acquire the best land for your stormwater management or conservation project?

Please join us for a webinar hosted by Delta Institute, the Alliance for the Great Lakes, and Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant on the recently completed Land Acquisition Strategy (LAS). Registration is required.

The presentation will highlight the contents of the document including a method for prioritizing land for acquisition, modeling green infrastructure performance and ROI using the Tipping Point Planner and L-THIA Tool, and strategies for navigating the land acquisition process.

The strategy was developed for municipal partners in Michigan City, Indiana to facilitate the acquisition of land for sustainable stormwater management and natural area conservation. Municipalities, land trusts, watershed groups, and more may find the strategies and tools described in this webinar and available in the LAS useful for their immediate and long-term land acquisition initiatives.

EPA Announces Winners of its Annual Campus RainWorks Challenge

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced the winners of its eighth annual Campus RainWorks Challenge, a national competition that engages college students in the design of on-campus green infrastructure solutions to help address stormwater pollution. This year’s winning projects demonstrate innovative design and illustrate the health and environmental benefits of good stormwater management.

“EPA’s Campus RainWorks Challenge encourages students to transform classroom knowledge into innovative and replicable solutions for stormwater management,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “I congratulate this year’s winners and applaud the hard work of all of the teams that competed.”

Stormwater runoff is a significant source of water pollution in America. Managing runoff remains a complex environmental challenge for local communities across the country. EPA’s Campus RainWorks Challenge asks students and faculty members at colleges and universities across the country to apply green infrastructure design principles, foster interdisciplinary collaboration and increase the use of green infrastructure on the nation’s college campuses. Since 2012 more than 700 teams have participated in the challenge. 

In this year’s Challenge, EPA invited student teams to compete in two design categories. The Master Plan category examines how green infrastructure can be broadly integrated across campus while the Demonstration Project category focuses on how green infrastructure can address stormwater pollution at a specific site on campus. With the help of a faculty advisor, teams of students focused their expertise, creativity and energy on the challenges of stormwater management and showcased the environmental, economic and social benefits of green infrastructure.

The Challenge winners are:

Florida International University (1st Place Master Plan Category) – The “Coastal Eco-Waters: Adapting for a Resilient Campus” project redesigned the University’s Biscayne Bay campus to incorporate replicable green infrastructure practices that engage with the broader community to cultivate regional resiliency in an area that experiences extreme weather events.

University of California at Los Angeles (1st Place Demonstration Project Category) – The team’s project, titled “Little Steps to a Sustainable Future,” redesigned a local elementary school campus to incorporate a variety of green infrastructure practices. Extensive stakeholder engagement across the school district led to a realistic design capable of managing stormwater runoff onsite and providing hands-on environmental education that will connect students to their watershed.

University of Arizona (2nd Place Master Plan Category) – The “Against the Grain” project integrated multiple green infrastructure practices into a master plan design that revitalized key transportation and pedestrian corridors. This project sought to enhance flood protection through inclusion of bioretention facilities with native plants and trees and treat stormwater runoff as a resource by incorporating cisterns for irrigation.

Arizona State University (2nd Place Demonstration Project Category) – In their project titled, “Ready! Set! Activate!” this team worked with a local elementary school to reduce local flooding during Arizona’s monsoon season and create a resilient, multi-functional space that effectively manages stormwater runoff and yields educational and ecological benefits. 

EPA is also pleased to recognize the University of California at Berkeley for honorable mention in the Demonstration Project category and Michigan State University for honorable mention in the Master Plan category.


Green infrastructure tools and techniques for stormwater management include green roofs, permeable materials, alternative designs for streets and buildings, trees, habitat conservation, rain gardens and rain harvesting systems. Utilizing these tools decreases pollution to local waterways by treating rain where it falls and keeping polluted stormwater from entering sewer systems. Communities are increasingly using innovative green infrastructure to supplement “gray” infrastructure such as pipes, filters and ponds. Green infrastructure reduces water pollution while increasing economic activity and neighborhood revitalization, job creation, energy savings and open space.

First place teams will receive a $5,000 student prize to be split among team members and a $5,000 faculty prize to support green infrastructure research and training. Second place teams will receive a $2,500 student prize and a $2,500 faculty prize. Designs were completed and submitted to EPA last fall for review and consideration.  

Stormwater management and green infrastructure provide benefits that urban residents are willing to work for, study shows

Read the full story from the University of Illinois College of ACES.

Urban areas face increasing problems with stormwater management. Impervious surfaces on roads and buildings cause flooding, which impacts the water quality of streams, rivers and lakes. Green infrastructure, including features such as rain barrels, green roofs, rain gardens, and on-site water treatment, can provide affordable and environmentally sound ways to manage precipitation.

However, green infrastructure is challenging to maintain, because it is decentralized across a city and requires constant maintenance and upkeep. One way city management can address those challenges is to rely on volunteers to help maintain such features.

A new study from the University of Illinois and Reed College aims to estimate the value people place on improved water quality and storm management, and how much time and money they are willing to contribute to enjoy those benefits.

EPA’s Campus RainWorks Challenge Invites Students to Design Innovative Infrastructure for Stormwater Management

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has launched its eighth annual Campus RainWorks Challenge, a design competition that is open to colleges and universities across the country. EPA seeks to engage with students to design innovative green infrastructure solutions for stormwater management, showcasing the environmental, economic, and social benefits of these practices.

“The Campus RainWorks Challenge gets students excited about innovative infrastructure that provides clean water for campus communities,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water David Ross. “The program engages the next generation of potential clean water professionals and fosters the interdisciplinary collaboration necessary to solve the problems of the future.”

The 2019 Campus RainWorks Challenge will foster a dialogue about the need for innovative stormwater management, asking interdisciplinary student teams to design creative green infrastructure solutions that address stormwater pollution and benefit the campus community. Teams may submit entries in two categories—demonstration projects or master planning.

Each first-place team will earn a student prize of $5,000 to be divided evenly among student team members and a faculty prize of $5,000 to support green infrastructure research or training. Second-place teams will win a $2,500 student prize and a $2,500 faculty prize.

Registration for the 2019 Challenge opened Sept. 1, 2019 and closes Oct. 15, 2019. Registrants must submit their entries by Dec. 17, 2019 and winners will be announced in the Spring 2020.


Since 2012, nearly 700 teams and over 4,000 students have participated in the Campus RainWorks Challenge. Water pollution associated with stormwater runoff requires infrastructure solutions that are innovative, resilient and affordable. Green infrastructure refers to a variety of stormwater management practices that restore or mimic natural hydrological processes. While traditional stormwater infrastructure is largely designed to convey stormwater away from the built environment, green infrastructure uses soils, vegetation, and other media to manage stormwater where it falls.

More information about the Campus RainWorks Challenge is available at:

Urban Stormwater: An Overlooked Pathway of Extensive Mixed Contaminants to Surface and Groundwaters in the United States

Jason R. Masoner, Dana W. Kolpin, Isabelle M. Cozzarelli, Larry B. Barber, David S. Burden, William T. Foreman, Kenneth J. Forshay, Edward T. Furlong, Justin F. Groves, Michelle L. Hladik, Matthew E. Hopton, Jeanne B. Jaeschke, Steffanie H. Keefe, David P. Krabbenhoft, Richard Lowrance, Kristin M. Romanok, David L. Rus, William R. Selbig, Brianna H. Williams, and Paul M. Bradley (2019). “Urban Stormwater: An Overlooked Pathway of Extensive Mixed Contaminants to Surface and Groundwaters in the United States.” Environmental Science & Technology 53 (17), 10070-10081 DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.9b02867

Abstract: Increasing global reliance on stormwater control measures to reduce discharge to surface water, increase groundwater recharge, and minimize contaminant delivery to receiving waterbodies necessitates improved understanding of stormwater–contaminant profiles. A multiagency study of organic and inorganic chemicals in urban stormwater from 50 runoff events at 21 sites across the United States demonstrated that stormwater transports substantial mixtures of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, bioactive contaminants (pesticides and pharmaceuticals), and other organic chemicals known or suspected to pose environmental health concern. Numerous organic-chemical detections per site (median number of chemicals detected = 73), individual concentrations exceeding 10 000 ng/L, and cumulative concentrations up to 263 000 ng/L suggested concern for potential environmental effects during runoff events. Organic concentrations, loads, and yields were positively correlated with impervious surfaces and highly developed urban catchments. Episodic storm-event organic concentrations and loads were comparable to and often exceeded those of daily wastewater plant discharges. Inorganic chemical concentrations were generally dilute in concentration and did not exceed chronic aquatic life criteria. Methylmercury was measured in 90% of samples with concentrations that ranged from 0.05 to 1.0 ng/L.Abstract:

Water Sensitive Cities Are Leading The Way In Urban Water Management

Read the full story in Forbes.

As the planet faces escalating extremes of weather and temperatures, effective urban water management is more critical than ever to manage droughts and flooding and related problems such as poor health and unstable infrastructure.

The multifaceted water sensitive cities model addresses these challenges by offering a comprehensive template for urban areas to improve water purity and management, population health and biodiversity.

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