Leveraging Minnesota's Stormwater Data for Improved Modeling and Management

Management of Minnesota’s cities to improve water quality fundamentally relies on information about the sources and amounts of pollution in stormwater systems. Recent decades have seen a substantial increase in data collection in Minnesota’s cities. These data, including high-resolution land cover and water quality monitoring data, represent an under-used resource that could drive more effective management of water quality, and enhance capacity to plan for future changes in climate and infrastructure. This project will assemble available stormwater quality and quantity data within Minnesota, analyze data to reveal relationships with key urban land cover and climate variables, and disseminate information via several means, including work with Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) to update widely used management resources.

The project will distill millions of dollars’ worth of data to produce robust characterization of runoff quantity and quality on event, seasonal, and annual basis, and provide scalable relationships between land cover, climate, and loads of major stormwater pollutants. Data summaries and parameters will be available as an easily accessible resource for cities, stormwater practitioners, and researchers to parameterize widely used models and mapping tools. Analyses developed can be used to reveal and map source areas of major stormwater pollutants, and identify seasonal and hydrologic influences on stormwater quality. The project will provide comprehensive, current and locally-relevant stormwater characterization using data specific to Minnesota’s cities. Centrally available information for stormwater characterization will benefit water resources practitioners, watershed managers, and scientists in the development and cost effective implementation of water quality monitoring programs, management plans, and models.

Projected outcomes

  • Improved accessibility and utility of a large and valuable yet under analyzed and underused water quality data resource, substantially increasing the value and knowledge gained from monitoring investments in Minnesota. 
  • Increased knowledge specific to Minnesota needed predict and understand relationships between landscape, climate, watershed variables and stormwater quality and quantity. 
  • Integration of modern, high quality data to widely used tools and resources in collaboration with Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. 
  • Increased communication and information sharing between researchers, managers, and practitioners toward more efficient and effective use of resources to protect water quality.

Products and outreach

This project was supported by the Minnesota Stormwater Research and Technology Transfer Program and the Minneapolis-St. Paul Metropolitan Area (MSP) Urban Long Term Ecological Research Program, through its grant from the National Science Foundation (DEB-2045382).