Information provided for reference purposes only

Note: This information is provided for reference purposes only. Although the information provided here was accurate and current when first created, it is now outdated.

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Unless otherwise noted, the source of these definitions is Glossary of Environmental Terms and Acronym List (USEPA, 1989).

Bankfull event (also bankfull discharge): A flow condition in which streamflow completely fills the steam channel up to the top of the bank. In undisturbed watersheds, the discharge condition occurs on average every 1.5 to 2 years and controls the shape and form of natural channels. (Schueler, 1987)

Berm: An earthen mound used to direct the flow of runoff around or through a best management practice (BMP) (Schueler, 1987).

Constructed urban runoff wetlands: Those wetlands that are intentionally created on sites that are not wetlands for the primary purpose of wastewater or urban runoff treatment and are managed as such. Constructed wetlands are normally considered as part of the urban runoff collection and treatment system.

Conveyance system: The drainage facilities, both natural and human-made, which collect, contain, and provide for the flow of surface water and urban runoff from the highest points on the land down to a receiving water. The natural elements of the conveyance system include swales and small drainage courses, streams, rivers, lakes, and wetlands. The human-made elements of the conveyance system include gutters, ditches, pipes, channels, and most retention/detention facilities (Washington Department of Ecology, 1992).

Denitrification: The anaerobic biological reduction of nitrate nitrogen to nitrogen gas.

Discharge: Outflow; the flow of a stream, canal, or aquifer. One may also speak of the discharge of a canal or stream into a lake, river, or ocean. (Hydraulics) Rate of flow, specifically fluid flow; a volume of fluid passing a point per unit of time, commonly expressed as cubic feet per second, cubic meters per second, gallons per minute, gallons per day, or millions of gallons per day. (Washington Department of Ecology, 1992)

Drainage basin: A geographic and hydrologic subunit of a watershed (Washington Department of Ecology, 1992).

Ecosystem: The interacting system of a biological community and its nonliving environmental surroundings.

Erosion: The wearing away of the land surface by wind or water. Erosion occurs naturally from weather or runoff but can be intensified by land-clearing practices related to farming, residential or industrial development, road building, or timber cutting.

Forebay: An extra storage space provided near an inlet of a BMP to trap incoming sediments before they accumulate in a pond BMP (Schueler, 1987).

Heavy metals: Metallic elements with high atomic weights, e.g., mercury, chromium, cadmium, arsenic, and lead. They can damage living things at low concentrations and tend to accumulate in the food chain.

Illicit discharge: All nonurban runoff discharges to urban runoff drainage systems that could cause or contribute to a violation of State water quality, sediment quality, or ground-water quality standards, including but not limited to sanitary sewer connections, industrial process water, interior floor drains, car washing, and greywater systems (Washington Department of Ecology, 1992).

Impervious surface: A hard surface area that either prevents or retards the entry of water into the soil mantle as under natural conditions prior to development and/or a hard surface area that causes water to run off the surface in greater quantities or at an increased rate of flow from the flow present under natural conditions prior to development. Common impervious surfaces include, but are not limited to, rooftops, walkways, patios, driveways, parking lots, storage areas, concrete or asphalt paving, gravel roads, packed earthen materials, and oiled, macadam, or other surfaces that similarly impede the natural infiltration of urban runoff. Open, uncovered retention/detention facilities shall not be considered as impervious surfaces. (Washington Department of Ecology, 1992)

Invasive exotic plants: Non-native plants having the capacity to compete and proliferate in introduced environments (Washington Department of Ecology, 1992).

Land conversion: A change in land use, function, or purpose (Washington Department of Ecology, 1992).

Land-disturbing activity: Any activity that results in a change in the existing soil cover (both vegetative and nonvegetative) and/or the existing soil topography. Land-disturbing activities include, but are not limited to, demolition, construction, clearing, grading, filling, and excavation. (Washington Department of Ecology, 1992)

Local government: Any county, city, or town having its own incorporated government for local affairs (Washington Department of Ecology, 1992).

Municipal separate storm sewer systems: Any conveyance or system of conveyance that is owned or operated by the State or local government entity, is used for collecting and conveying storm water, and is not part of a publicly owned treatment works (POTW), as defined in EPA 40 CFR Part III (Washington Department of Ecology, 1992).

Onsite disposal system (OSDS): Sewage disposal system designed to treat wastewater at a particular site. Septic tank systems are common OSDS. (Washington Department of Ecology, 1992)

Organophosphate: Pesticide chemical that contains phosphorus; used to control insects. Organophosphates are short-lived, but some can be toxic when first applied.

Postdevelopment peak runoff: Maximum instantaneous rate of flow during a storm, after development is complete (Washington Department of Ecology, 1992).

Retrofit: The creation or modification of an urban runoff management system in a previously developed area. This may include wet ponds, infiltration systems, wetland plantings, streambank stabilization, and other BMP techniques for improving water quality and creating aquatic habitat. A retrofit can consist of the construction of a new BMP in a developed area, the enhancement of an older urban runoff management structure, or a combination of improvement and new construction. (Schueler et al., 1992)

Soil absorption field: A subsurface area containing a trench or bed with clean stones and a system of distribution piping through which treated sewage may seep into the surrounding soil for further treatment and disposal.

Turbidity: A cloudy condition in water due to suspended silt or organic matter.

Urban runoff: That portion of precipitation that does not naturally percolate into the ground or evaporate, but flows via overland flow, underflow, or channels or is piped into a defined surface water channel or a constructed infiltration facility (Washington Department of Ecology, 1992).

Vegetated buffer: Strips of vegetation separating a waterbody from a land use with potential to act as a nonpoint pollution source; vegetated buffers (or simply buffers) are variable in width and can range in function from a vegetated filter strip to a wetland or riparian area.

Watershed: The land area that drains into a receiving waterbody.

Wetlands: Areas that are inundated or saturated by surface or ground water at a frequency and duration to support, and that under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions; wetlands generally include swamps, marshes, bogs, and similar areas. (This definition is consistent with the Federal definition at 40 CFR 230.3; December 24, 1989. As amendments are made to the wetland definition, they will be considered applicable to this guidance.)

Xeriscaping: A horticultural practice that combines water conservation techniques with landscaping; also known as dry landscaping (Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service, 1991).

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This page last updated October 4, 1999