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Stormwater harvesting and use is part of a larger concept of ‘reuse’, the practice of collecting stormwater, greywater, or blackwater to meet water demands, including but not limited to: irrigation, drinking, washing, cooling, and flushing.


Stormwater Monitoring is required by EPA and State regulators. Under regulation, rainwater is sometimes referred to as run-off, e.g., urban runoff, industrial run-off, or agricultural run-off. Rain itself may contain trace pollutants, but the focus of stormwater monitoring is on the pollutants scoured, rinsed or otherwise mobilized by rain.

Much of the surface water pollution related to discharges from sewage treatment plants and industrial point sources, comes from rain run-off. Rainwater mobilizes pollutants that it comes in contact with. This type of pollution transport can occur everywhere that rain falls on sources of pollution. This contribution of pollutants to waterways is called a ‘Non-Point Source’.

A point source of pollution is associated with an ‘end of pipe’. Think of a wastewater treatment plant that takes in water from sanitary sewers, cleans it up and discharges it to the environment – that is a point source, a known fixed point. Stormwater enters waterways from multiple directions and points too numerous to consider in the straight-forward way we think of an end of pipe source. Stormwater comes in contact with, and then transports: sediments, pesticides, trace levels of metals, bacteria, oils, trash etc. Stormwater pollution varies with the source of pollutants present, this can include urban, agricultural, timber harvesting and mining sources,to name a few.

Stormwater, and non-point sources of pollution, is the largest cause of impairment to waterways of the U.S. and is now under regulation. Some of the monitoring (depending on the area of land involved, and the use of the land) is regulated under general permits (general construction permit, general industrial permit, general municipal permit), and some permits specific to a large municipal area.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administers the Clean Water Act. Within the Clean Water Act is a system of regulating discharges of pollution to waterways called the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System. The common acronym for this permit system, and the permit itself for the permit holder, is NPDES. The NPDES permit is the regulatory tool used by the EPA, and or the State (when the state applies EPA programs) to require management of a water discharge to reduce pollution to public waterways. In the case of stormwater, much of the management is utilization of best management practices (BMPs) to minimize contact of rain to pollutants and thus preventing the rain from transporting pollutants to public waterways.

In this sense much of stormwater management does not involve direct monitoring with analytical chemistry and microbiological methods, but rather oversight of best management practices. Stormwater permits may include covering soil piles to avoid mud flows and using straw to slow down and filter highly turbid muddy water going down a storm drain. It would also include things like street sweeping to try to physically remove urban pollutants from streets prior to rain rinsing them into the storm drains. Much of stormwater regulations are actually pollution prevention programs, attempting to prevent the mobilization of pollutants into waterways. Some of the stormwater regulations include treatment of sorts, such as detention basins where pollutants can settle out before entering streams, or vegetated swales where pollutants are trapped by the soil and plants etc. Whatever the practices employed to improve the quality of stormwater with respect to pollutants, at some point the water itself may be tested to document its quality. That is where CSRA Analytical Laboratories, and labs like it come into play.

CSRA Analytical Laboratories provides analyses of stormwaters for compliance monitoring. Stormwater analyses are related to the Clean Water Act, which requires analytical methods listed in the Federal Register (40 CFR part 136). CSRA Analytical Laboratories is certified for the use of these required methods. Some of the pollutants of concern for stormwater include sediments, metals (like mercury, copper, lead and zinc), pesticides (like diazinon, chlorpyrifos, and pyrethroids), petroleum hydrocarbons (fuels and oils), nutrients (like phosphorus and nitrogen), solids (such as total suspended solids) bacteria, and oxygen demand.

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