The National Academies

NCHRP 25-20 [Completed]

Management of Runoff from Surface Transportation Facilities--Synthesis and Research Plan

  Project Data
Funds: $150,000
Research Agency: GKY and Associates, Inc.
Principal Investigator: G. Kenneth Young
Effective Date: 4/14/1999
Completion Date: 3/31/2001

The effect of polluted runoff on water quality is an important concern for federal, state, and local agencies with a stake in the planning, design, construction, and maintenance of transportation facilities. The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) regulations (40 CFR 122 & 123) require the management of sources and impacts of contamination from runoff on municipal stormwater systems. In addition, highway runoff management techniques must be consistent with the objectives of nonpoint source control programs under Section 319 of the Clean Water Act and state coastal nonpoint pollution control plans developed under Section 6217 of the Coastal Zone Act Reauthorization Amendments. Therefore, water-quality information and data are needed to manage runoff and comply with the NPDES and other regulations.

Many studies, during the 1980s and 1990s, have addressed water-quality and runoff issues, but results are often difficult to find and obtain. Consequently, critical information is not readily available to practitioners and researchers. Duplication of effort consumes a significant portion of the money spent on investigating water-quality problems.

The fields of water quality, watershed management, and runoff control continue to advance. New and innovative techniques are being developed to perform assessments, measure the impacts, and manage the source. Technologies for best management practices (BMPs) are evolving. Improvements to modeling techniques are occurring. Databases for performance measures are being created. And regulations are changing.

Accordingly, existing information, knowledge, and practice must be critically reviewed and then synthesized, integrated, and made available in a form usable to practitioners. Where there are gaps in existing knowledge, a prioritized plan of research that is financially attainable is needed. There is also a need to sustain a continuing exchange of information to be of value to practitioners and others interested in water-quality and runoff issues.

The objectives of this research, on the management of the quality and quantity of runoff waters from surface transportation facilities, are to (1) synthesize existing knowledge and practice into a form usable by practitioners; (2) develop a strategic research plan to address gaps in existing knowledge; and (3) recommend a system for continued exchange of information between practitioners and others interested in water-quality and runoff issues.

To accomplish the project objectives, the following tasks are envisioned: (1) Review topic areas provided by the NCHRP for completeness and revise as necessary to provide a comprehensive listing of topic areas appropriate for a synthesis of knowledge and practice and for a strategic research plan. (2) Critically review published and unpublished literature, databases, and information systems to identify the present states of practice and knowledge related to the topic areas identified in Task 1. Consider research carried out by NCHRP; FHWA; EPA; AASHTO (namely, the Environmental Technical Assistance Program -- ETAP); the U.S. Navy; other federal, state, and local agencies; and universities. Synthesize the relevant findings in a form that is useful for planning, designing, constructing, and maintaining transportation facilities. Prepare an annotated bibliography and identify shortcomings, weaknesses, and gaps in understanding. (3) Identify present sources and levels of funding for current research relevant to the management of runoff, and assess each source's potential in continuing this activity. (This information will be used by the NCHRP and others to determine opportunities for partnering in future research efforts.) (4) Develop a draft strategic research plan. The plan shall include a prioritized program of serial and concurrent research to meet the critical and important needs related to runoff management. Individual projects shall be described with a title, brief scope and objective, and estimated costs and time. (5) Within 6 months of contract initiation, submit draft report no. 1 that includes the results of Tasks 1 through 4. The Task 2 synthesis and Task 4 research plan will each be included as stand-alone appendices. Research will be suspended for approximately 1 month to allow for panel review of the report before Task 6. (6) Participate in a 2-day contractor-panel meeting to discuss and refine draft report no. 1. (7) Based on the contractor-panel interaction, produce draft report no. 2. (8) In cooperation with NCHRP staff, disseminate the synthesis and strategic research plan portions of draft report no. 2 to state DOTs and other interested organizations to obtain input and determine interest in partnering and financing portions of the research plan. Consider the input and revise the draft report accordingly. (9) Analyze the feasibility of creating an electronic repository and exchange system for information on management of runoff from surface transportation facilities. Contact potential organizations with the capability and interest to sustain such an effort and evaluate cost and financing strategies. Recommend options for further consideration in the implementation of the system. (10) Submit the final report with references to the synthesis and strategic research plan as separate stand-alone documents.

Status: Research is complete.

Product Availability: The agency's final report has been posted as NCHRP Web Document 37. Several synthesis reports, an annotated bibliography of recent publications, and a list of older publications have been captured on a searchable CD-ROM; the CD-ROM is available on request.

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