WPAFB reduces stormwater flow through low-impact development strategies

  • Published
  • By Michael Vaughn
  • 88th Civil Engineer Group

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – Stormwater management on a large installation requires a multifaceted approach.

That includes avoiding dumping any substance down a storm drain that is not stormwater, preventing sediment runoff and reducing stormwater flow through low-impact development strategies. WPAFB has adopted some of those strategies, and there are a few new or upgraded LID areas on base.

The Environmental Protection Agency considers LID to be a management approach and set of practices that can reduce runoff and pollutant loading by managing them as close to the source as possible. LID includes overall site design and individual, small-scale stormwater-management efforts that promote the use of natural systems for infiltration, evapotranspiration, and the harvesting and use of rainwater.

Although both holistic and isolated LID practices can remove pollutants and reduce damaging stormwater flows, the thorough approach maximizes these benefits. Two LID approaches at Wright-Patterson AFB are green roofs and swales.

A green or living roof is a building rooftop partially or completely covered with growing medium and vegetation planted over a waterproof membrane. It may also include additional layers such as a root barrier and drainage and irrigation systems. Benefits of green roofs include reduced stormwater runoff and building-energy use, air-quality improvements, and support for wildlife food and habitat.

A green roof installed at Building 20802 on WPAFB appears to be on ground level but is a section of roofing over the structure’s basement. This area was recently upgraded with new succulent beds and landscape details.

Swales are another LID strategy commonly incorporated in construction designs. They not only convey stormwater but also help treat runoff to reduce pollutants.

Like ditches, swales collect stormwater from roads, driveways, parking lots and other hard surfaces. Unlike ditches, swales are not deep with straight sides.

They have gently sloping sides and are wider than they are deep. This slope slows down stormwater surge as it percolates into the soil. The slowing of stormwater surge allows suspended solids to be deposited into the soil rather than collect in local streams and rivers.

The recent Locust Street construction between Wright-Patterson Medical Center and Kittyhawk Pharmacy in Area A implemented a series of swales in its design.

Stormwater management touches all facets of WPAFB. It incorporates numerous strategies to keep base waterways clean and the installation in compliance with all water-quality regulations. Where applicable, properly implemented and maintained LID strategies are an integral piece to protecting waterways.

For more information on stormwater management or low-impact development, contact Michael Vaughn, the installation’s Water Quality Program manager, at michael.vaughn.3@us.af.mil.