In undeveloped areas, precipitation typically soaks into the ground. When buildings, parking lots, roads and other hard surfaces are added to the landscape, the ground cannot absorb the water. Water from rain or snow storms, known as stormwater, instead flows over streets, parking lots and roofs and into a water body or storm drain.
Stormwater runoff is often worsened by human activities, and can contain nitrogen and phosphorus pollutants from fertilizers, pet and yard waste. Because stormwater flows over hard surfaces directly into a water body or storm drain, there is no opportunity for soil and plants or a water treatment facility to filter out pollutants. Urban and suburban areas produce much more stormwater runoff due to the high amount of paved and hard surfaces.
Teacher Resources for Introducing
Urban Stormwater Quality Concepts
to the Classroom
Including Example Lesson Plans meeting
Colorado Standards for Science, Geography and Civics
Driven by new regulations, scientific studies, and public interest in preserving our urban
waterways, the study of urban stormwater pollution and its solutions has become increasingly
important. Beyond increasing awareness and promoting citizen behaviors that improve the quality
of urban waters, stormwater quality is now an important part of the overall study of our
environment and related fields. Scientists who study the impacts of nutrients on ecosystems, city
managers who create and manage programs to control erosion at construction sites, engineers who
design constructed wetlands to reduce pollution from new housing developments, small business
owners who must get permits for stormwater discharges, and even firefighters responding to
material spills, all need to have knowledge of stormwater runoff issues, and be able to apply that
knowledge in their jobs.
The enclosed materials are intended to introduce teachers to some of the concepts of urban
stormwater pollution, and provide resources to be used in the classroom as part of a school's current
Questions or Comments: Contact Colorado's Stormwater Program: firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-692-3517
Teacher Information Resource Sheet
Background information, facts, and definitions for the teacher
Introduction (For all Lessons).
Activity 1, Modeling a Watershed...
Erosion, Pollution and Prevention
A visual, hands-on model building exercise to experiment with the
effects of runoff while learning the science and geography of
Science 1, 3.1, 3.2, 4.1, 4.3, 5, 6
Geography 1.3, 2.1, 3.1, 4.4, 5.1, 5.3, 6.2
Activity 2, Where Does My Waste