Stuart Echols is a professor of landscape architecture whose interests focus on two integrated areas of stormwater design: utility and amenity. The utility side of his stormwater design research focuses on creating better stormwater management systems that restore the hydrology of natural landscapes by replicating predevelopment evapotranspiration, infiltration, and runoff. The amenity side of his stormwater design research focuses on the analysis and dissemination of strategies to integrate stormwater management into site design to create landscapes of rich experience focused on the rainwater itself.
Reconciling these two needs is critical to achieving more effective stormwater management strategies. Together they lead to small dispersed systems that use landscape design to restore natural hydrology. Using design to address stormwater issues eliminates end-of-pipe facilities by distributing stormwater throughout a site in ways that restore natural evapotranspiration, infiltration, and runoff processes. However, to ensure enthusiastic use of these systems, they must also be designed as landscape amenities that add value to land development. This integrated approach is particularly timely because new federal regulations discourage large centralized end-of-pipe stormwater design, but most designers are unsure how to create more effective solutions.
Echols has developed and advanced a Split-Flow theory of stormwater design that recognizes landscape and stormwater systems as integrated systems based on the same ecological processes, and that uses landscape design to restore and preserve natural hydrology.