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Controlling Stormwater at the Source Exploring best management practices by Katie McKain, ASLA, MLA, MUD Photos courtesy Katie McKain CONVENTIONAL STORMWATER SYSTEMS TREAT PRECIPITATION AS A WASTE PRODUCT, DIRECTING IT INTO STORM DRAINS AND PIPES AND POURING IT INTO RECEIVING WATERS. THESE TRADITIONAL DEVELOPMENT SYSTEMS ALSO CAUSE UNDESIRABLE EFFECTS TO THE LANDSCAPE, SUCH AS REDUCING THE WATER TABLE AND ITS OVERALL QUALITY, AS WELL AS LEADING TO EROSION, SEDIMENTATION, AND FLOODING ISSUES. 1 As the impervious surfaces characterizing urban sprawl—roads, parking lots, driveways, and roofs—replace meadows and forests, rain can no longer seep into the ground to replenish aquifers. This reduces the groundwater recharge serving as a natural hydrologic process where surface water infiltrates downward into groundwater to maintain the water table level. The infiltration process naturally filters runoff through vegetation and soils. Not only do conventional systems prevent groundwater recharge, but they also cause significant stress to waterways and affect water quality. When the natural process does not happen, runoff spreads over impervious surfaces and gathers pollutants that wash into lakes, rivers, and streams, and thus contaminating them. There is also a negative financial connotation as building impervious surfaces and concrete curb and gutter systems are expensive. Curbs 30 the construction specifier | november 2013 CS_November2013.indd 30 2013-10-16 11:28 AM