The potential of stormwater capture to face water challenges

Stormwater capture offers a promising solution that can help close the gap between water supply and demand as well as manage intensifying flooding and drought.


United States urban areas generate an average of 53,100 million gallons of stormwater runoff per day – equivalent to about 93 per cent of municipal and industrial water use. To put this in perspective, 365 days' worth of stormwater could fill about 30 Olympic swimming pools.

This figure takes on significance as water scarcity is a growing risk for communities across the U.S. due to natural hydrologic variability, population and economic growth, and the intensifying effects of climate change. 

Stormwater capture can also mitigate impacts on communities from flooding and drought, reduce water pollution, and contribute to cooling urbanized areas and greening communities

These findings indicate there is a significant untapped potential to expand stormwater capture in urban areas across the United States. This is an important first step. Detailed assessments that consider any legal constraints or ecological considerations can help refine this estimate for local communities and regional planning. 

Unlocking the potential of stormwater capture

To provide strategic recommendations to advance opportunities and remove barriers to realize the untapped potential of stormwater capture, the Pacific Institute -in partnership with 2NDNATURE- published Untapped Potential: An Assessment of Urban Stormwater Runoff Potential in the United States

The report offers nine recommendations with some strategies tailored for different regions. Find here more details on each recommendation.

Key takeways include:  

    • Elevate stormwater capture on the national water planning agenda. 

    • Expand funding and financing opportunities for stormwater capture, especially for green stormwater infrastructure. 

    • Break down governance silos via regional approaches and interagency coordination.  

    • Expand applications of stormwater for additional uses. 

A resource designed to be shared

“Untapped Potential: An Assessment of Urban Stormwater Runoff Potential in the United States” has been developed as part of the Pacific Institute’s work on generating evidence of effective water equity and resilience strategies across the U.S. The Pacific institute is a global water think tank supported by BHP Foundation.

The findings from this assessment are intended to serve as a resource for communities, water supply planning professionals, and decision-makers that have not previously considered stormwater capture in their water supply planning efforts or are looking for further opportunities to build upon existing stormwater capture activities. Share it with your networks!


BHP Foundation supports projects taking action in the United States and around the world to improve the governance and management of water resources to meet the needs of local communities by driving awareness, support and trust to address the risks; encourage policy frameworks for more effective decision-making; and develop practices for sustainable water use. Read more about our program.

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