Storm-Water Treatment Goes Underground

by Brian Roberts, (M.ASCE), Chief Engineer; National Corrugated Steel Pipe Association, Washington, D.C.,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1996, Vol. 66, Issue 7, Pg. 56-57

Document Type: Feature article


The field of storm-water management continues to evolve as practitioners gain more experience and knowledge from the successes and failures of the past. While we once treated every site with the same approach, we now realize that different sites require different solutions. When storm-water management techniques are applied to what might be called ultraurban environments, the need for new methods becomes obvious. For many years, engineers attempted to apply land-consuming surface measures, such as detention/retention ponds, where space was not available or limited. In recent years, there has been a slight shift in applied philosophy. Where land is scarce and values are high, best management practices (BMPs) have called for construction underground. These days, BMPs, which can address both the quantitative and qualitative aspects of runoff, are required on most development involving collection, storage and sometimes storm-water runoff. The quantitative aspect of collecting storm water is well understood: water is stored in either surface or subsurface facilities. Treating runoff to improve water quality is a greater challenge. A common approach has been the use of underground detention facilities, in some cases constructed of corrugated steel pipe. Although other materials are available, CSP provides the advantages of low cost, ease of installation and high strength. Other materials, such as concrete or plastic, may be used for construction of underground systems; however, underground facilities typically require a minimum of 48 in. diameter structures and larger. These alternate materials can either be cost prohibitive or unavailable in larger sizes.

Subject Headings: Underground construction | Best Management Practice | Runoff | Water storage | Underground structures | Stormwater management | Management methods | Water quality

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