The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and its Environmental & Water Resources Institute (EWRI), National Municipal Stormwater Alliance (NMSA) and the Water Environment Federation (WEF) has announced that stormwater infrastructure will be evaluated and graded in the next ASCE 2021 Infrastructure Report Card. This marks the first inclusion of a national stormwater infrastructure grade.
As the only growing source of water pollution in many waterways across the country, stormwater is water that runs off the land and hard surfaces from rain and snowmelt events. With urban populations growth and development, in addition to more frequent and intense storms nationwide, there is mounting pressure on stormwater infrastructure.
"Effective stormwater management in our cities and along our highways affects nearly every person every day," said Eric Loucks, P.E., EWRI Governing Board. "With more frequent, intense storms on top of flooding events, we're seeing more stormwater runoff, risking flooding of our communities, erosion of our streams and pollution of our water. We need effective stormwater management that can treat stormwater as a beneficial resource, putting the water to work where it's needed most. Including stormwater infrastructure as a Report Card category will help policymakers get a better handle on the magnitude of the problem across the United States and how we can move forward in taking advantage of this valuable resource."
ASCE's 2017 Infrastructure Report Card rated the overall condition of the nation's infrastructure a cumulative grade of "D+," with an investment gap of $2 trillion. ASCE's inclusion of a stormwater chapter reflects increased interest in stormwater infrastructure by decision-makers to provide for the public sustainable solutions to the problems of flooding and water pollution. ASCE's state report card committees have periodically graded stormwater infrastructure – most recently, in California, Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Washington. The stormwater chapters in these states have recommendations to modernize stormwater infrastructure to better prepare for the future and ultimately raise the grades.
"Stormwater infrastructure protects our communities from flooding and our waterways from pollution," said NMSA Chair Scott Taylor. "Grading the nation's stormwater infrastructure increases its visibility and helps communities get the resources needed to improve their stormwater programs. We applaud ASCE's foresight in making this important addition to the Infrastructure Report Card."
In addition, the WEF Stormwater Institute led an effort, supported by NMSA, to gather the first-ever analysis of the U.S. stormwater sector needs, which revealed an estimated $7.5 billion annual funding gap and identified top priorities and challenges across the country. This inaugural survey, the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Needs Assessment Survey, reflects an effort to learn more about the nature and needs of the MS4 sector at a scale that has never been attempted and will assist analysis for the 2021 Infrastructure Report Card.
"The inclusion of stormwater infrastructure in the ASCE's report card will provide a much-deserved boost in visibility for infrastructure that is vital to communities across the country," said WEF Executive Director Eileen O'Neill. "We hope that adding stormwater to the report card will result in more resources and focus being directed to this essential part of our infrastructure, and subsequent improvements to water quality."
The ASCE Infrastructure Report Card is issued once every four years and the next one will be released in March 2021.