Blacksburg, Va. -- Streams, lakes, and bays may soon be cleaner thanks to an innovative approach to managing stormwater runoff being developed at Virginia Tech and funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
A novel software application will help engineers and planners select the most efficient and site specific methods called Best Management Practices (BMPs) of controlling the amount of pollutants that enter the receiving waters through stormwater runoff.
Pollutants are washed off the roads, parking lots, or other surfaces by stormwater, and include toxic motor oil, pesticides, metals, bacteria, and trash. The Congressional Research Service reported in 2007 that up to 50 percent of water pollution problems in the United State are attributed to stormwater runoff.
The application is the product of collaboration between faculty and researchers from Virginia Techs Virginia Water Resources Research Center (http://www.vwrrc.vt.edu), the Center for Geospatial Information Technology in the College of Natural Resources (http://www.cgit.vt.edu), and the Via Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in the College of Engineering (http://www.cee.vt.edu).
The new BMPs selection approach, called Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP), will factor in dozens of site-specific criteria such as soil types, land slopes, or maintenance accessibility before choosing the optimal BMPs for a particular location.
This technique is expected to drastically reduce the BMP selection time and will also eliminate the human error from such a complex process, says project coordinator Tamim Younos, water center associate director and research professor of water resources in the Department of Geography in the College of Natural Resources. Other project leaders include Randy Dymond, CGIT co-director, and David Kibl
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