Urban Best Management Practices: Reporting Reductions of Untreated Urban Runoff as a Result of GLRI-funded Urban BMPs

Science Center Objects

The objectives of this project are to quantify reductions in the volume of urban stormwater runoff through implementation of green infrastructure practices, model stormwater characteristics to further explore our understanding of the hydrologic functions performed by green infrastructure and assess how green infrastructure may help or hinder sequestration of chloride from application of deicing agents.

Setting up monitoring station

Monitoring station being set up by USGS employee.

(Public domain.)

High-frequency measurements of climate parameters, stormwater discharge, soils, and groundwater, both before and after construction, will be used to calculate stormwater volume reduction efficiencies of select green infrastructure practices, either individually or collectively, at varying scale across the Great Lakes states. USGS scientists have established monitoring projects in Fond du Lac, WI, Milwaukee, WI, Gary, IN, Detroit, MI, and Buffalo, NY. These projects will assess the performance of several green infrastructure practices including, rain gardens, vegetated swales, tree planter boxes, sand filters, urban tree canopy, and channel restoration. 

Scientists have measured up to four years of stormwater runoff events characterizing pre-, active-, and post-construction of green infrastructure practices. Although projects are still ongoing, scientists have learned that the performance of green infrastructure can be largely determined by underlying soils. Evaluation of a rain garden over sandy soils in Gary, IN showed significant reductions in the volume of stormwater reaching storm drains. Green infrastructure over clay soils in Detroit, MI showed little reduction in stormwater volume. Scientists have also discovered that, regardless of soil conditions, improper construction and maintenance of green infrastructure could result in poor performance.


A website and storymap were created to provide a background of the impacts of urban stormwater, how green infrastructure can be used to mitigate those impacts, and highlights from current monitoring projects.


This project was funded under the Nonpoint Source Pollution Impacts on Nearshore Health Focus Area to collect data that will help assess the urban component of nonpoint runoff and determine the reduced amount of untreated runoff from urban watersheds.


  • City of Buffalo - Buffalo Sewer Authority
  • City of Gary
  • Gary Sanitary District
  • City of Detroit
  • RecoveryPark
  • Lawrence Technological University
  • University of Wisconsin
  • City of Fond du Lac
  • Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District
  • U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • U.S. Forest Service
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA)