Characterizing Stormwater Quality: A Fool's Errand?



Gary Minton suggests characterizing the watershed rather than the rainwater runoff

The January-February 2009 issue of Stormwater magazine has a guest editorial by Dr. Gary Minton, a leading contributor to the development of design criteria for rainwater/stormwater treatment relevant to the conditions of the Pacific Northwest. He is the author of the textbook Stormwater Treatment. He asks:

  • “What confidence can we place in our attempts, however herioc, to characterize stormwater? What confidence can we place in the numbers?”

“After spending so much money, the suspicion is that we are only going to know the obvious: that stormwater is indeed polluted”, writes Minton. He offers a solution to the monitoring dilemma: characterize the watershed rather than the rainwater/stormwater.

“Our community wash-off models have for 40 years been structured based on land use: residential, commercial, and industrial. The deep weakness of such models is that the structure is not directly related to the BMP programs,” writes Gary Minton. “Let’s consider structuring our models based on scape: roadscape, parkingscape, roofscape, and landscape. This dissection more directly relates to our BMPs.”

“But let’s beware of the illusion of certainty. There is always the tendency to believe that current practice has a certainty substantially greater than reality, complemented by the tendency to believe that the uncertainty of a new proposed practice is greater. This is simply not the case,” concludes Gary Minton.


To Learn More:

To read the complete editorial, click on Characterizing Stormwater Quality: A Fool’s Errand?

To read a previous Water Bucket article quoting Gary Minton, click on Rainwater Management on Diverging Paths in British Columbia and Washington State?



Before STORMWATER, The Journal for Surface Water Quality Professionals, there was no single publication written specifically for  the professional involved with surface water quality issues, protection, projects, and programs.


Posted January 2009