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Ecosystem Services in Stormwater Best Management Practices

You will be introduced to the value of healthy functioning natural ecosystems for urban and suburban areas through the benefits and services they provide to humans (“ecosystem services”). Common examples of these services include air purification, carbon storage, reducing heat island effect, pollutant removal, recreation and education, community pride and property values. Learn to identify potential urban spaces that could host natural ecosystems. We will also explore how well-engineered ecosystems, such as vegetated stormwater best management practices (BMPs), are able to supplement natural ecosystems. Examine the potential for conventional BMPs (i.e., constructed stormwater wetlands, wetponds, vegetated filter strips, swales), as well as several green infrastructure strategies (i.e., porous pavement, rain garden, regenerative stormwater conveyance). Finally explore how designing to optimize ecosystem services may help achieve regional total maximum daily load (TMDL) goals.

This course can be applied to the Water Technology Certificate.


Adrienne Cizek

Adrienne Cizek

Adrienne received her undergraduate degree in environmental engineering from UW-Madison. She continued her education in the School of Public Health at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, where she researched the fate of pathogens in stormwater runoff for New York ... read more

Benefits and Learning Outcomes

Learning Objectives:

  • Describe and identify ecosystem services and their importance to urban areas
  • Identify possible locations for increasing ecosystem services in urban areas
  • Understand limitations and potential for ecosystem services in BMPs
  • Estimate the potential presence of select ecosystem services in BMPs beyond those explored in class
  • Estimate value of added ecosystem services in BMPs
  • Evaluate the potential of ecosystem-based stormwater management, such as Green Infrastructure, on meeting TMDL loads
  • Design BMPs that optimize ecosystem performance while continuing to meet stormwater mitigation goals

Course Outline/Topics

Course Outline

Day 1 (Lecture)

Morning I (8 to 9:30) Introduction to ecosystem services – Adrienne Cizek

  • Description and examples of ecosystem services
  • Value of ecosystem services provided by natural ecosystem
  • Ecosystem services in urban areas
  • Ecosystem function in restored ecosystems vs. natural ecosystems

Morning II (9:30 to 10:30)Ecosystem services in Stormwater Wetlands and Wetponds – Adrienne Cizek

  • Stormwater Mitigation
  • Carbon Sequestration
  • Biodiversity
  • Recreation and Education
  • Flora and Fauna Health

Morning III (10:45 to 12) – Ecosystem Services in Stormwater Conveyance – Adrienne Cizek

  • Stormwater Mitigation (Vegetated filter strips [VFS], Swales, Step-pool stormwater conveyance [SPSC])
  • Carbon Sequestration (VFS, Swales, Step-pool stormwater conveyance)
  • Biodiversity (SPSC only)
  • Habitat provision (SPSC only)
  • Microbial biomass (SPSC only)
  • Recreation and Education (SPSC only)

Afternoon I (12:45 to 2:30)Evaluating Ecosystem Services in SCMs – Adrienne Cizek, Carrie Bristoll-Groll

  • Carbon Footprint Example
  • GIST Workshop (Monetary Example)

Afternoon II (2:45 to 4) – Optimizing BMP Design – Adrienne Cizek, Carrie Bristoll-Groll

  • Identify optimal conditions for each service examined based on our data
  • Identify aspects of BMP design flexibility
  • Consider how optimizing ecosystem service may affect stormwater mitigation performance

Day 2

Morning I (8 to 10) – Ecosystem-based Design to Meet TMDLs – Adrienne Cizek, Carrie Bristoll-Groll

  • Recap from previous day
  • TMDLs 101
  • Pollutant removal mechanism for targeted pollutants
  • Pollutant removal process in BMPs and GI
  • Students will determine design characteristics to help meet TMDLs

Morning II (10:15 to 12) – Design Application – Adrienne Cizek, Carrie Bristoll-Groll

  • Project Introduction
  • Students are broken into groups and presented with site needing stormwater mitigation. They will work for 1.25 hours on their “optimal BMP(s)” for the site. Each group will present to the class.

Afternoon (12:45 to 3) – Field Trip – Adrienne Cizek, Carrie Bristoll-Groll

  • Locations TBD

Dates and locations to be announced.