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Stormwater Research - Areas and Needs

Photo of a Sample Collection Box and Solar Panel
Sample Collection Box and Solar Panel
WSDOT's existing stormwater-related research areas and needs fall into four categories. Links below lead to current research proposals for:

  • Properties of highway runoff
  • Environmental effects
  • Mitigation
  • Policy, procedure and design 


Methods to avoid, minimize, buffer, or mitigate highway runoff effects. WSDOT sees long-term benefits in pursuing and evaluating stormwater dispersion methods, infiltration systems, watershed-based mitigation approaches, and other cost-effective treatment options applicable for constrained highway right-of-way settings. At the same time, WSDOT recognizes the need to be sure that surface water quality is not being achieved at the expense of soil or groundwater contamination. 

Characterization of the properties of
highway runoff
.  Collection of highway runoff data will occur as part of NPDES required monitoring, and as a by-product of other monitoring efforts. Best management practice (BMP) effectiveness research requires evaluating untreated highway runoff (i.e., control samples) to allow before and after treatment comparisons.  Data will also be produced from evaluations during construction activities; and may result from some TMDL monitoring.

Characterization of the environmental effects of highway runoff.  Although the character of highway runoff is generally known, the effects of highway runoff on the water quality, ecology, hydrology, and geomorphology of downstream systems is an area of interest. Research on the effects of highway runoff will help further refine policy and management of highway runoff.
Procedures and design tool development. Regulations or regulatory guidance may spawn the need for research to either verify appropriateness of regulatory triggers or assess its implications for department project and service delivery. The emergence of new stormwater approaches and technologies developed to comply with regulations often spurs the need for research to flush out design and maintenance questions associated with those new management options. Findings from such research are incorporated into WSDOT's business practices through its updates to department technical procedures, guidance manuals (e.g., Highway Runoff, Hydraulics, Design, Environmental Procedures, and Maintenance Manuals), design tools (e.g., hydrologic models), and standard specifications (e.g., erosion and water pollution control).