The Water Environment Research Foundation has released the final report for its project “Transforming our Cities: High-Performance Green Infrastructure.” Project researchers examined the effectiveness of highly distributed real-time control (DRTC) technologies for green stormwater infrastructure. Controls investigated included advanced rainwater harvesting systems, dynamically controlled green roofs, actively controlled detention basins, and underdrained bioretention systems.

Through targeted field pilots, planning-level analysis, and cost analysis, researchers found that these DRTC systems can play a critical role in cost-effectively transforming the nation’s urban stormwater infrastructure. These technologies can improve the ability of stormwater controls to reduce runoff and combat combined sewer overflows (CSOs) in addition to maximizing stormwater reuse. The integration of DRTC technologies provides a new suite of tools for utility operators to optimize investments in green infrastructure and potentially solve problems that arise when using conventional passive solutions. For instance, researchers modeled a dynamically controlled rainwater harvesting cistern compared to a conventional passive cistern. The optimized dynamic system not only did a better job mitigating CSOs under all tank storage capacities, but it also proved more robust under a wide range of climate change precipitation scenarios.