Lisa Lemont, Hydro International's Regional Business Manager for the Asia Pacific region, explores the global issues posed by stormwater, examines what needs to be done about it and highlights the responsibilities that engineers and contracts must carry with them throughout each project.
“Stormwater – the excess surface water generated during heavy rainfall – is a significant issue globally due to climate change, urbanization and the associated spread of impermeable surfaces such as roads and roofs. These factors have combined to create more extreme, sharper stormwater peaks that may overwhelm existing constructed defenses and the environment’s natural capacity.
Excess stormwater can have a major impact on lives and businesses. For residents, property values and quality of life can be negatively affected by the poor water quality associated with stormwater runoff. When properties flood, the associated pollution is a significant factor in the amount of damage caused.
Families can find themselves living in temporary accommodation for months – even years – with all the disruption and misery that implies. The environment itself, and all organisms that depend on it, can be badly affected by erosion, siltation, destruction of habitat and the deposition of persistent, possibly toxic, pollutants.
Any industry that depends on the environment, such as eco-tourism, fisheries or shellfisheries - and associated services such as hotels, airports, and taxis - can also be badly disrupted. Industries that use surface waters in their operations, such as power plants, can be significantly affected by pollutants washed into streams or lakes.
Because the impacts are so extreme, engineers involved in the design, maintenance and operation of stormwater solutions bear substantial responsibilities. These must be offset against commercial requirements such as ensuring projects complete on time, costs are minimized, and benefits maximized.”