Necessity of the Control of Post-Construction Runoff
Post-construction stormwater management in areas undergoing new development or redevelopment is necessary because runoff from these areas has been shown to significantly affect receiving waterbodies. Many studies indicate that prior planning and design for the minimization of pollutants in post-construction stormwater discharges is the most cost-effective approach to stormwater quality management.
There are generally two forms of substantial impacts of post-construction runoff.
Increase in Type & Quantity of Pollutants
The first is caused by an increase in the type and quantity of pollutants in stormwater runoff. As runoff flows over areas altered by development, it picks up harmful sediment and chemicals such as:
- Heavy metals
- Nutrients (e.g, nitrogen and phosphorus)
- Oil and grease
These pollutants often become suspended in runoff and are carried to receiving waters, such as lakes, ponds, and streams. Once deposited, these pollutants can enter the food chain through small aquatic life, eventually entering the tissues of fish and humans.
Increase in Quantity of Water Delivered to a Waterbody
The second kind of post-construction runoff impact occurs by increasing the quantity of water delivered to the waterbody during storms. Increased impervious surfaces (e.g, parking lots, driveways, and rooftops) interrupt the natural cycle of gradual percolation of water through vegetation and soil.
Instead, water is collected from surfaces such as asphalt and concrete and routed to drainage systems where large volumes of runoff quickly flow to the nearest receiving water. The effects of this process include streambank scouring and downstream flooding, which often lead to a loss of aquatic life and damage to property.