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Stormwater modeling

Stormwater modeling involves numerical simulation to predict the flow, accumulation, and quality of water runoff within a specific area during storm events. The topic is gaining in importance with increased urbanization and more frequent and powerful flash flood events in a changing climate.

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Analyzing factors such as land cover, topography, rainfall patterns, and infrastructure, stormwater models can help engineers and urban planners understand and make informed decisions about stormwater management practices, sustainable development, and flood risk mitigation strategies.

Different types of simulation tools are used in stormwater modeling, ranging from simple empirical models to complex hydrological simulators that account for a wide range of factors such as infiltration, pollutant transport, evaporation, and erosion. For urban environment planning purposes, it is often crucial to have models that are rapid to compute, simple to use, and have limited data requirements - in such cases, simplified GIS-based models with a primary focus on topography may serve a particularly useful purpose. If dynamics need to be explicitly modeled, simulators based on time-stepping and the solution of the physical flow equations become necessary. Choosing the right model is dependent on many factors such as the questions asked, available data, computational resources, and end-users.

The application of stormwater modeling can assist in planning resilient urban development, including the design and application of effective stormwater management infrastructure such as retention ponds, green roofs, permeable pavements, and rain gardens. By simulating various scenarios, stakeholders can evaluate the performance and cost-effectiveness of different strategies before implementation.