The National Academies

ACRP 02-62 [Final]

Green Stormwater Infrastructure Strategies for Airports

  Project Data
Funds: $300,000
Research Agency: The Cadmus Group
Principal Investigator: Jim Jolley
Effective Date: 4/30/2015
Completion Date: 10/7/2016

Initially stormwater systems were designed to convey water run-off efficiently without regard to downstream impacts. Stormwater regulations have evolved to include water quantity and quality standards for both industrial and municipal activities conducted at airports. Some airports are proactive in incorporating sustainable practices in all aspects of their business including stormwater management. Implementing green infrastructure practices may be the most sustainable solution, balancing the economics, operational, social, and environmental benefits and impacts. Federal and state regulatory agencies are also promoting green infrastructure strategies to comply with their requirements.
Green stormwater infrastructure management strategies are a relatively new approach to complying with federal and state water regulations and requirements. These strategies may include techniques, technologies, or elements in design. However, there can be conflicts with safety and operational regulations and limited airport specific guidance about the different green stormwater management strategies.
The objectives of this research are to: (1) develop a primer to educate airport management on benefits and applicability of incorporating green infrastructure strategies into stormwater management programs; (2) develop a guidebook for airports that identifies (a) best management strategies for green infrastructure stormwater management and (b) a process to determine the appropriate strategies for implementation; and (3) enter the unique strategies identified in this project into the updated Sustainable Aviation Guidance Alliance (SAGA) database.
The primer includes the following:
  • History of stormwater regulations and practices;
  • Discussion of the regulatory environment that applies to stormwater management;
  • Overview of typical airport land uses and associated stormwater run-off pollutants
  • Introduction of the concept of Low Impact Development (LID); and
  • Summary of the case studies (see below).
The guidebook includes the following:
  • Identification of best management strategies for the various land uses and pollutants, and descriptions of the pros/cons and constraints of each;
  • Identification of regional geographic, geologic, climatic, and operational distinctions as they relate to pollutants and green stormwater management;
  • Identification of pollutants related to the different airport land uses;
  • Addressing conflicts of green stormwater management strategies with wildlife hazard management and other airport safety and operational requirements and identify solutions;
  • Suggestions for engaging with local jurisdictions on local planning and zoning stormwater issues uniquely related to airports;
  • Case studies from airports that have implemented green stormwater management strategies and lessons learned;
  • Verification, testing methods, and techniques prior to commissioning a strategy;
  • A process to assist airports in determining the appropriate strategy(ies) including considerations that will factor into the evaluation; and
  • Additional resources.
  • The case studies should include at least one primary and one non-primary airport, and examine at a minimum the following:
  • At least one example strategy that has been in practice for at least 5 years;
  • An example of a strategy that did not yield expected results with a discussion of the issues;
  • Costs and maintenance impacts, as available; and
  • The process and rationale that were used in selecting the green infrastructure strategy and the regulatory agencies that were involved. 

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