Blog

Why We Need to Maintain Our Drains

Every catch basin in the country—this includes all the drains you see along the road and in parking lots—should be cleaned at least once a year. Most cities enforce this on an annual inspection basis, and property managers face the threat of fines if it’s not done in time. But why? Simple. The sediment that collects in the catch basins build up and gets swept away during storms. And that sediment carries with it a whole host of chemicals and bacteria—not to mention the sediment itself—that end up in our lakes, rivers, and oceans.

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Turns out that Saving the Environment Saves Money

We hear an awful lot about how environmental regulations negatively impact our economy...but what if the opposite is true? From a property or city perspective, spending a little bit to address any issues before they arise results in big savings. Consider that for every $1 spent on stormwater system maintenance & mitigation, $4 are saved in damages. So, for example, if every commercial building owner spent $500 on annual maintenance & mitigation, that means that, collectively, you save $11.2B in repairs and fines associated with flooding and property damage. That is not insignificant.

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Impervious Surfaces Ruin Everything

Impervious surfaces are any surfaces that block infiltration of water into the soil. When it comes to humans, it's our concrete and asphalt, rooftops, and even super compacted soil that create a barrier to infiltration. As impervious surfaces increase even a little, stormwater runoff increases dramatically. As runoff increases, groundwater reserves can become depleted and surface waters receiving the runoff become impaired.

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What's in a Catch Basin? And Why Does It Matter?

Catch basins are practically ubiquitous. You see them in every street and in every parking lot. Commercial properties even have them buried in their landscaping to capture roof runoff. They are our front line of defense against stormwater pollution, and maintaining them and the rest of the stormwater system regularly (at least once a year) is the most effective way to mitigate stormwater impacts to surface water and to reduce flooding due to blockages or damage.

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Green Stormwater Infrastructure and Low-Impact Development, Simplified.

All of these pollutants entering our waterways and wreaking havoc on our aquatic ecosystems, recreation, drinking water, and fisheries industry...it's a bit daunting. To address it in a stepwise, systemic approach, everyone - and I mean everyone - has to be on board. In the meantime, both individuals and communities are embracing low-impact development (LID) and green infrastructure (GI) as a cost-effective way to almost completely treat stormwater runoff before it hits surface and groundwater. As a result of significant improvements in water quality, we see an abundance of benefits, ranging from reduced water treatment costs to safe swim zones and recharged groundwater. And the use of GI/LID reduces discharge of polluted stormwater runoff to waterways by millions of gallons annually. Millions.

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Going with the (Stormwater) Flow

A lot of the discussion around stormwater focuses on the types and amounts of pollutants -- both point source and non-point sources -- carried in stormwater runoff to surface water. While BMPs are primarily designed to treat or remove the pollution, they are also often designed to reduce the rate of flow of stormwater runoff entering and moving through a system.

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Stormwater Monitoring Requirements - Ambient Sampling

Phase I MS4s conduct ambient monitoring of surface waters, such as lakes, streams, and rivers, during normal (non-storm) events to establish baseline conditions, i.e., water quality without direct effects from stormwater runoff. While these conditions are considered normal, that is not to say impacts are not identified. In fact, several of the parameters measured and identified during ambient sampling events can only be a direct result of human impacts and are examples of residual impacts from stormwater runoff. The data also provide a reference point for wet weather conditions, i.e., a baseline to compare pre- vs. post-runoff water quality.

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Leading Causes of Water Quality Impairment

As noted in previous posts, stormwater generates most of the water pollution observed in urban areas, and stormwater runoff results in water quality impairment in both urban and downstream surface water ecosystems. Interestingly, different water bodies exhibit different types and scale of pollutants, as shown below. Designing BMPs to address specific types of contaminants relative to the surface water body that is - or will be - impacted by redevelopment could be a step in the right direction toward successfully mitigating stormwater impacts on aquatic habitats and organisms, as well as our own drinking water.

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Maintenance Programs Benefit EVERYONE

Whether you’re a stormwater service provider who is looking to increase your revenue and build stability into your business model, or a property manager who is tired of getting surprised with inspection requirements and fines from the city, or even a municipality who is trying to save money but clean up your stormwater system, implementing a preventative maintenance program may be the way to go.

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Business Rockstars: StormSensor Co-Founder Erin Rothman - Being Bullied & Rising Above

StormSensor CEO Erin Rothman opens up about being bullied in middle school, hating herself and life in general, and the realization that changed her life. See the full two minute video at Business Rockstars.

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Stormwater Quality in Urban Environments (shockingly) Gets Worse the More Urban It Gets

One of the most comprehensive urban vs. non-urban stormwater studies was conducted by the U.S. EPA's National Urban Runoff Program (NURP) between 1978 and 1983, covered 2,300 storm events, and compared stormwater pollutant loading according to the type of urban land use. Understanding what pollutants come from which environments allows scientists and engineers to implement BMPs specifically designed to address stormwater quality for a given area. And for everyone else - it helps individuals make decisions regarding their own runoff and how they can do their part to make a difference.

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Pollutants in Urban vs. Non-Urban Stormwater Runoff

One of the most comprehensive urban vs. non-urban stormwater study was conducted by the U.S. EPA's National Urban Runoff Program (NURP) between 1978 and 1983, covered 2,300 storm events, and compared stormwater quality between three types of urban land uses (residential, mixed-use, and commercial) and non-urban land use.

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How Your Stormwater Systems Actually Work

Most people glance down at a catch basin, maybe notice the “do not dump, drains to river” stickers. But have you ever wondered what really happens to our stormwater? More than 10 trillion gallons of this stuff flows across our properties and under our streets every year. It carries pollution, debris, sediment, and bacteria to our fresh water systems. Turns out it’s worth thinking about!

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From Droughts to Floods?

Impervious surfaces - such as roofs, roads, and parking lots - generate between 5 and 16 times the stormwater runoff of that generated in natural/unpaved areas.

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StormSensor & Design Swarm for Digital Inclusion

On Saturday, February 4, StormSensor CEO Erin Rothman joined a group of about 60 of Seattle's most brilliant minds at the Design Swarms Workshop for Digital Inclusion to identify and design a solution to address a problem that many of us don't even know exists and yet has significant repercussions on individuals and communities the world over: getting access to digital technology for those less privileged. Yet these people have the most to gain from access to technology. To that end, Galvanize Seattle hosted a design swarm workshop, facilitating a hackathon-like innovation process in which agile teams of 8 to 10 people each develop a minimum viable experience. Our team won first place, as voted by representatives of the City of Seattle and several local homeless/immigrant support centers, for designing what we called data.me, which aggregates unused data from mobile plans into an app and allows access to that data for those who need it. Simple, (almost) free, and widely accessible.

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StormSensor Accepted into the Climate Reality Leadership Corps

Erin Rothman, CEO of StormSensor, will be one of our next leaders in climate science! She was recently accepted into the 2017 cohort of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps, headed by former vice president Al Gore.

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Why Are We Wasting Our Water

According to the latest National Water Quality Inventory (EPA 2004), 30% of assessed estuaries (7,641 sq. mi.), 44% of assessed rivers (246,002 mi.), and 64% of assessed lakes (10,451,402 acres) are impaired relative to: (1) designated uses (fishing, swimming, or drinking), (2) chemical/biological criteria to protect those designated uses, and (3) antidegradation policies to protect those water bodies that currently meet the criteria from degrading to impaired.

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StormSensor Selected as a Finalist for the 2017 Sustainable Seattle Awards

StormSensor is honored to be selected as a finalist for this year's Sustainability Leadership Awards in the category of Technology: Innovative Creation or Implementation to Advance Sustainability.

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StormSensor CEO Presents at Seattle's Found-HERS event

On November 4, 2016, StormSensor was honored to be a part of this great event focused on female startup founders in the Pacific Northwest. Developed to emphasize the value of women in startups, "[the] goal is to showcase those Investors, Founders, and Supporters in the community that are helping women owned businesses, are investing in female founders, and are starting companies themselves." Click here to see Erin and five other female founders rock out the startup world!

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StormSensor Accepted into University of Washington's Foster School of Business - Business Growth Collaborative

StormSensor is proud to announce that we have been selected as part of 2017's cohort in the Foster School of Business' Business Growth Collaborative!

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Getting Dirty with Our Catch Basins

The amount of sediment and debris generated during rainfall is substantial. More than you can imagine, and certainly more than I ever thought possible. The graphic and summary included herein is based on a study completed by Mineart & Singh in 1994, and it—as well as other similar studies—is summarized in this white paper prepared for the Association of Washington Cities and Washington Department of Ecology in 2013.

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Preventative Storm System Maintenance is Easy!

A lot of stormwater service providers and property managers talk about creating – or running – preventative maintenance programs for their customers. But few actually implement them because of concerns about the time and effort required to set it up. With our software, it’s a breeze. And with this post, you can see why it’s worth it—to you, and to your bottom line.

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Erin Rothman Interviewed on Business Rockstars

Pat O'Brian interviews StormSensor CeO and Co-Founder Erin Rothman! Check out the full interview to hear Erin's thoughts on perseverance, inspiration, and entrepreneurship.

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StormSensor Kicks Off Sales operations with Launch of StormSensor | Inspector Software.

Seattle B2B SaaS startup introduces an automation platform that saves stormwater compliance customers more than 50% on every project

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StormSensor | Inspector Demo

StormSensor | Inspector helps you track your project status, streamline your schedule, and tells you the results of any of your inspections immediately. Take a look at our 2-minute software demo and see how much easier your work can get! Not to mention the opportunities that abound for setting up ongoing maintenance programs for your properties or your customers. We’ll get you on your way!

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StormSensor Sponsors UW Engineering 2017 Senior Capstone

We are honored and excited to announce our sponsorship of a team of brilliant undergraduate engineers at University of Washington’s Bothell campus to develop a self-healing network that monitors stormwater flow, temperature, and pressure in real time...

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Stormwater Contamination - What's Really in There

Take a look at the primary chemicals identified in stormwater and where they come from. We summarize the type, source, and characteristics of nine pollutants common in stormwater and give you the tools you need to recognize and minimize their releases. Which means that you get.

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How Stormwater Affects You!

Many of us don’t realize the impacts that stormwater has on each of us – but it affects so many aspects of our lives. The contamination in the water forces cities to close our beaches, makes it unsafe to fish or swim after storms, destroys ecosystems and affects economies based on those ecosystems, and makes it very expensive to treat our water.

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Fixing Stormwater

Stormwater was recently recognized as the no. 1 cause of water pollution in urban areas. As such we’ve started researching the economic, social, and environmental impacts of contaminated stormwater to our lives. Taking a fresh look at the industry, researchers have identified four key recommendations, and StormSensor adds suggestions of our own.

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