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Dec 04

Climate Change and Stormwater

Posted on December 4, 2012 at 11:57 AM by Diane Thompson

With the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Doha, Qatar wrapping up this week, the topic of climate change has been making headlines all over the world.  While climate change has the potential to impact all aspects of our lives, we're going to focus on the possible effects on stormwater.

Rising global temperatures can lead to more extreme weather events (larger storms, longer droughts, etc.)  More intense rainfall events can bring increased flooding, runoff and erosion.  This could lead to major issues for many municipalities as stormwater conveyance systems were built with historical weather events in mind.  Municipalities may not be equipped to handle frequent, intense storms that could become the normal with increasing temperatures. 

So what does this mean for you?  More frequent extreme weather events that current stormwater conveyance and storage measures cannot handle could lead to flooding and property damage.  Some ways to mitigate these effects include: decreasing impervious surfaces to allow for more stormwater infiltration, planting trees and maintaining riparian buffers to prevent erosion, and using low impact development (LID) practices for new development.  Implementing preventative measures now can help us weather the storm in the future.

To learn more about climate change and stormwater, visit these pages:

University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute 

United Nations Climate Change Portal                                 

Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts Stormwater Working Group