Feb 17, 2015

EPA Releases Storm Water Climate Change Tool

Stormwater Management Model tool helps communities prepare for climate change impacts

EPA Stormwater Management Model

As part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan Virtual Climate Resilience Toolkit, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the release of the Climate Adjustment Tool for EPA’s Stormwater Management Model—a downloadable online storm water simulation model. The Climate Adjustment Tool allows engineers and planners to evaluate the performance of water infrastructure while considering future climate change projections, such as more frequent high-intensity storms and changes in evaporation rates of seasonal precipitation, to determine the benefits of resiliency decisions to reduce local economic burden and protect communities.

“Climate change means increased risks to our health, our economy, and our environment,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “But with the President’s Climate Action Plan, the agency is taking action to advance science-based technology, such as the addition of the Climate Adjustment Tool, to help state and local planners combat the impacts of climate change, especially significant economic burden from severe weather, and protect communities through sustainability and resiliency measures.”

The new tool will enable users to add climate projections based on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s climate change scenarios to existing simulations to determine the quality of water traveling through traditional infrastructure—a system of gutters, storm drains, pipes, channels, collection tanks and storage devices. The tool also has the ability to model the performance of green infrastructure practices, including permeable pavement, rain gardens and green roofs. Engineers and planners are able to accurately represent any combination of traditional and greeninfrastructure practices within an area to determine their effectiveness in managing stormwater and combined sewer overflows in their community.

Storm water runoff is a major environmental problem resulting in flooding, erosion and contaminated waters. Every year billions of gallons of raw sewage, trash, household chemicals, fertilizers and urban runoff flow into streams, rivers and lakes. Polluted storm water runoff can adversely affect plants, animals and people. 

The Climate Adjustment Tool, in addition to other tools in the Climate Action Plan Virtual Climate Resilience Toolkit, can help users make planning, analysis and design decisions that will guard against the impacts of climate change. Using these tools to choose the best adaptation options is an innovative and efficient way to promote healthy waters and support more sustainable communities.

EPA’s Stormwater Management Model is used throughout the world for storm water runoff reduction planning, analysis and design of combined and sanitary sewers and other drainage systems. Originally released decades ago, SWMM is now used in thousands of communities throughout the world, including as the core modeling engine in cities such as Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Seattle.