Freese and Nichols Stormwater Group – Preparing Today’s Municipalities for Tomorrow’s Runoff

Emily Darr

As part of our efforts to convey the focus of our FNI Water™ initiative, we will address each of the key areas in a series of articles. We will discuss how, together, they provide a comprehensive environmentally-responsible approach to water supply projects through implementation of best practices through every step, from planning to operations. This week, we are highlighting stormwater.

With population growth continuing to rise and urban infrastructure continuing to expand, the demand for water has become one of the most pressing issues facing our society. Such growth affects not only the health and safety of the public, but also the very economy and the environment to which we have grown accustomed. These challenges address the need to form a more comprehensive approach to water stewardship in the 21st century and becomes more important every day. In order to adequately address water supply, treatment and distribution, and reclamation issues facing municipalities, the FNI Water™ initiative seeks to effectively address the key components of water supply by optimizing and conserving resources. For clients, this means maximizing existing assets and preparing management plans, while also reducing costs and identifying underutilized resources. 

So where does stormwater fit into this scenario? Rainwater serves as the most direct source for replenishing our water supply. As part of the FNI Water™ initiative, our Stormwater Group considers a variety of factors including water quality, quantity of water treated, energy savings, cost reduction and environmental impact as they relate to the project. Stormwater enters the “cycle,” so to speak, at the upper end of the watershed where it becomes part of the supply as either surface water or ground water. From the supply storage, it then travels down the watershed to treatment and distribution, and eventually to reclamation where it will then re-enter the supply. Because our Stormwater Group is considering the water in the early stages of the cycle, it is all the more important to optimize resources early on in projects. 

The core to a sound stormwater project involves a commitment to water stewardship driven by the need to conserve and optimize resources available. Proper stormwater practices through FNI Water™ include: 

  • Pollutant loading reduction to surface water supply sources through best practices such as Low Impact Development (LID) implementation, riparian corridor protection, ecosystem conservation and restoration, climate change analysis, stream condition and geomorphic assessments, stormwater modeling, and watershed protection planning to name a few options.
  • Provide flood control using environmentally friendly and aesthetically pleasing techniques.
  • Use captured stormwater as water supply from small-scale (rainwater harvesting, irrigation) to large-scale (water supply reservoirs) applications throughout projects when applicable.
  • Use stormwater for non-potable applications such irrigation as opposed to using treated water. 
  • Take a multi-disciplined approach through integration of stormwater planning with transportation planning and green space initiatives.

The primary focus of FNI Water™ is to develop sustainable practices that provide needed supplies, save money, and minimize impacts to the environment. This is achieved by using cutting-edge modeling techniques, decision-support system framework, and the Envision™ ranking system. Our services help clients through all stages of the project cycle – planning, permitting, regulatory/legal guidance, funding, feasibility analyses, design, construction, and operation. FNI Water™ provides innovative solutions for the stormwater challenges our clients face.