Creating new tools for computing stormwater runoff in urban areas.

Project Details

Environmental Protection Agency Sustainable and Healthy Communities Research Program (Subcontractor to The Cadmus Group)

2016 - Present


As part of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (US EPA) Sustainable and Healthy Communities Research Program (SHCRP), a research project was initiated to study tools that may help communities make decisions that lead toward sustainability.  One part of this project will produce tools to fill the gaps (where appropriate) for EPA goals and expertise.

An identified need was that communities need to know the consequences of changing the built environment on stormwater runoff.  The EPA has a tool for computing stormwater runoff in urban areas; however, using this tool directly requires extensive expertise that planners generally lack.  This project will create a plug-in to run EPA’s Storm Water Management Model (SWMM) within existing planning tools.  This same tool will allow users to visualize the results.

Several open planning tools are currently in use and many more are in development.  These tools are useful for planning changes in communities.  Many open planning tools are based on GIS standards or even run on top of more general-purpose GIS software such as ARC GIS (e.g., CommunityViz, Envision Tomorrow Plus, Index, and Urban Footprint).  A plug-in that is designed for one of these platforms may only run on that platform, but similarities between platforms may allow a significant amount of code to be reused between platforms.

For this project, RESPEC is currently creating  a set of software modules based on the SWMM model that may be integrated with a subset of the open planning tools described above.  RESPEC is leveraging its familiarity with both SWMM and the National Stormwater Calculator to understand the inputs and outputs and to design and implement a generic SWMM software module that can be run by other software.  This project has enabled RESPEC to expand its knowledge of open planning tools, including Urban Footprint, CommunityViz, and Envision Tomorrow Plus.


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