Synthesis of Findings of Effectiveness Study Literature Review

In 2012 the Stormwater Work Group (SWG) commissioned a series of “synthesis papers” to evaluate the findings of an earlier literature review and summarize the state of research and understanding of stormwater management approaches. The white papers with key findings from these projects are posted below, arranged by management program effectiveness topic area. Many of the findings should be helpful in developing, modifying and operating effective local stormwater programs. The papers’ authors also propose ideas for getting helpful answers to the questions that had been posed by permittees and others as being important to answer to improve stormwater management programs.

The SWG has been working since 2010 to develop a list of effectiveness topics and questions to be addressed by studies that will be conducted by the new Regional Stormwater Monitoring Program (RSMP) and implemented through the municipal stormwater NPDES permits. In September 2011 the workgroup submitted a ranked list of 22 topics to Ecology. These papers were used to help the workgroup update the September 2011 list. The new list was finalized In June 2013. The SWG hosted two workshops in early 2014 to discuss proposals for the RSMP studies. A final set of ten proposals is now under consideration by the SWG.

BMP Effectiveness Literature Review, 2011


This database contains the results of a literature review on the effectiveness of various stormwater best management practices (BMPs). The literature review is intended to help the Puget Sound Stormwater Work Group (SWG) develop recommendations for BMP effectiveness studies in the next municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) permits. The literature review should help the SWG identify BMP effectiveness studies that complement rather than duplicate previous studies. In addition, the literature review may facilitate the design of effectiveness studies by making it easier to find potentially relevant studies and take advantage of their "lessons learned."

The literature review was funded by the Puget Sound Partnership, the City of Everett, and Pierce County. Pierce County retained Brown and Caldwell (BC) to assist with the project (Pierce County Work Order D082-01). The scope of the literature review was limited to the budget specified in the Pierce County work order. Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) staff performed the literature searches and helped obtain the relevant documents for review. The SWG Effectiveness sub-group provided direction and oversight.


BC prepared a draft keyword list and a draft template for an Excel database to summarize the literature review results and sent it to the SWG Effectiveness sub-group for review. Shortly thereafter, the SWG obtained a list of approximately 180 effectiveness questions submitted by the Phase II permittees and questionnaire respondents. BC reviewed the questions and revised the keywords list accordingly. BC sent the revised list to the SWG Effectiveness sub-group for review and made additional changes based on their feedback.

WSDOT research staff used the revised keyword list to search the "Environment Complete" database. This database includes more than 1,000 academic journals, magazines, books, and monographs. WSDOT identified about 450 potentially relevant documents and provided BC with abstracts for these documents.

BC's initial review found fewer than expected abstracts for catch basin cleaning and street sweeping studies, possibly because some of the key studies were published before many of the journals in the "Environment Complete" database began digital indexing. We also noted that the database did not cover conference proceedings for some of the key water resources organizations. To address these potential gaps, WSDOT performed a series of follow-up searches as outlined below.

WSDOT used the "Ulrich" periodicals directory to perform a focused search for relevant articles that pre-date the "Environment Complete" digital indexing. The search focused on periodicals deemed likely to contain documents relevant to our stormwater keywords (e.g., Journal of American Water Resources Assn., Water Environment Research, Water Resources Research, Water & Environment Journal, Water Environment & Technology, Water Science & Technology, and Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management). WSDOT also searched the federal government documents database, "Gov.doc," for additional materials relevant to BMP effectiveness.

WSDOT was unable to find a comprehensive, searchable database for water resources conference proceedings. Therefore, WSDOT staff contacted several key organizations (e.g., AWRA, Oregon ACWA, StormCon, WEF, and CASQA) but was unable to obtain searchable databases for their respective conference proceedings. WSDOT's follow-up searches identified a number of documents potentially relevant to stormwater BMP effectiveness. WSDOT provided the citations and other available information to BC.

BC reviewed the results of the initial and follow-up searches, and found that about 335 of the documents appeared to be directly relevant to the BMP effectiveness questions compiled by the Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) and the SWG.

Based on the literature search results and feedback from the SWG Effectiveness sub-group, BC refined the database structure and sent a prototype to the SWG Effectiveness sub-group for review and comment.

Database Format

The results of the literature review are summarized in this Excel workbook. As noted above, it is designed to allow users to identify documents that may be relevant to their questions on BMP effectiveness. This workbook contains the worksheets described below:

General Procedure

  1. Use the filters in the Literature Summaries sheet to identify the documents that may be pertinent to a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit area, BMP type, pollutant, or other key attribute of interest. To facilitate filtering by BMP type, documents pertinent to more than one BMP are listed multiple times (once per BMP type).
  2. Click on the document title to view a summary of the document.
  3. If the summary indicates that the document is relevant to the user’s needs, click on the Internet address for that document. (Note: Some documents are not readily available on the Internet, and some require payment to obtain the full report.)
  4. After obtaining the relevant articles, users may wish to review the literature cited in those articles in order to identify additional relevant documents.
  5. Use the Data Entry Template to add additional relevant studies (e.g., from conference proceedings), and/or update the database as new studies are completed.


The scope of the literature review was limited to the budget specified in the Pierce County work order. The literature search focused on using the keyword list to search journals, magazines, and other sources with digital indexes. The budget did not allow for a thorough search of conference proceedings and university and municipal Web sites; outreach to individual researchers; or identification of planned or ongoing research. Therefore, the database should not be considered comprehensive.

The literature review focused on documents that appeared relevant to the BMP effectiveness questions compiled by Ecology and the SWG Effectiveness sub-group. The literature search identified a number of indirectly relevant documents that were not included in the database due to cost limitations.

Contact Karen Dinicola, Project Manager, at 360-407-6550 for more information.


Last updated May 2014