Date of Graduation
Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
James E. Smith
Andrew D. Lowery
Kenneth H. Means
Current climate changes have led to a projected steady increase in rainfall over the next several decades, notably in the Greater Pittsburgh Area. Even without this predicted increase the urbanization of many regions has altered local natural environments, which in the past stored, shed and evaporated this runoff water effectively, maintaining balance within the water table. These added rainfall forecasts, combined with America’s growing trend to develop and expand the urbanization of our natural earth, has resulted in a growing surplus of stormwater runoff water affecting these cities and their suburbs, leaving many sanitation departments unable to meet the heightened demands of excess storm water runoff imposed upon them. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in particular, has had to assume an accelerating rate of stormwater runoff from their considerable concentration of buildings and paved surfaces, which, in turn, has been diverted directly into the region’s main sewage treatment plant roughly 70 times annually. The identifiable issue of this project concerns when the amount of rainfall becomes so considerable that the remaining natural vegetation in these regions is unable to keep up with the heightened levels of rainwater being displaced. Therefore, it is the objective of this thesis to validate the concept and strategy of reevaluating effective and efficient water-handling strategies, utilized within natural environments, to urbanized regions. This will be done through the simulation of evaporative strategies implemented by “Mother Nature,” in preserved natural environments. Furthermore, the evaporative roof-spray technology investigated will also be analyzed for the potential for a return on investment for contributors through energy savings and cooling effect, primarily as it pertains to the heating and cooling of infrastructure and increased productivity of the work force. The designed system is able to collect 542,000 gallons of water in a single summer season, allowing for a potential evaporation of 375,000 gallons during the same timeframe. Apply an average evaporation rate of 2.8 gpm also allows for the evaporation of a 10,000 gallon tank in less than 5 days. The return on investment analysis shows a potential ROI of less than three years. These results supported the conclusion that evaporative technologies yield the ability to effectively offset stormwater runoff with the potential for a substantial return on investment. Because wastewater treatment plants are not equipped to handle the sudden increases in collected waste products, such technologies, applied on privately-owned properties, will work collectively to reduce the risk of overflow at treatment plants during storms or periods of heavy rainfall.
Arnold, Allison M., "Evaporative Techniques for Stormwater Runoff Alleviation" (2015). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 7365.