The Nationwide Stormwater Quality Database

Stormwater monitoring data collected by a portion of Phase I MS4s has been evaluated for years by the University of Alabama and the Center for Watershed Protection and compiled in a database called the Nationwide Stormwater Quality Database (NSQD). These data were collected in order to describe the characteristics of stormwater on a national level, to provide guidance for future sampling needs, and to enhance local stormwater management activities in areas with limited data. The MS4 monitoring data collected over the past ten years from more than 200 municipalities throughout the country have great potential in characterizing the quality of stormwater runoff and comparing it against historical benchmarks. Version 3 of the NSQD is available online at: It contains data from more than 8,500 events and 100 municipalities throughout the country. About 5,800 events are associated with homogeneous land uses, while the remainder are for mixed land uses.

The general approach to data collection was to contact EPA regional offices to obtain state contacts for the MS4 data, then the individual municipalities with Phase I permits were targeted for data collection. Selected outfall data from the International BMP Database were also included in NSQD version 3, eliminating any source area and any treated stormwater samples. Some of the older National Urban Runoff Program (NURP) (EPA, 1983) data were also included in the NSQD, along with some data from specialized U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) stormwater monitoring activities in order to better represent nationwide conditions and additional land uses. Because there were multiple sources of information, quality assurance and quality control reviews were very important to verify the correctness of data added to the database, and to ensure that no duplicate entries were added.

The NSQD includes sampling location information such as city, state, land use, drainage area, and EPA Rain Zone, as well as date, season, and rain depth. The constituents commonly measured for in stormwater include total suspended solids (TSS), 5-day biological oxygen demand (BOD5), chemical oxygen demand (COD), total phosphorus (TP), total Kjeldahl nitrogen (TKN), nitrite plus nitrate (NO2+NO3), total copper (Cu), total lead (Pb), and total zinc (Zn). Less information is available for many other constituents (including filterable heavy metals and bacteria). Figure 4-1 is a map showing the EPA Rain Zones in the United States, along with the locations of the communities contributing to the NSQD, version 3. Table 4-1 shows the number of samples for each land use and for each Rain Zone. This table does not show the number of mixed land-use site samples. Rain Zones 8 and 9 have very few samples, and institutional and open-space areas are poorly represented. However, residential, commercial, industrial, and freeway data are plentiful, except for the few Rain Zones noted above.

Land use has an important impact on the quality of stormwater. For example, the concentrations of heavy metals are higher for industrial land-use areas

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