In the past decade, the focus of stormwater management has moved from a more traditional paradigm to a variety of more ecologically sensitive, “green” stormwater solutions. Because of an increased ecological focus, stormwater management techniques are no longer selected from a one-size-fits-all toolkit, making adjustments only for storage and transport volumes to account for local differences in rainfall and contributing area. Instead, the current generation of stormwater managers has a wealth of options from which to choose, leading to solutions that need to be specifically formulated for or adapted to local soils, ecotypes, topography, and meteorology. Furthermore, there has also been a move away from the more traditional engineered systems toward an increased multi-disciplinary approach. As a result, stormwater can no longer be managed as an afterthought to development. Instead, stormwater managers and developers need to be communicating throughout the design process.
This combination of an ever-increasing range of stormwater management options and a greater reliance on interdisciplinary communication makes it more difficult to sort through the tangle of terminology and practices and to communicate between different groups and disciplines. Therefore, this paper seeks to provide a general understanding of current green stormwater practice and to make sense of the terminology of these different, yet often overlapping stormwater management strategies. To do this, a brief history of stormwater management is reviewed, showing how priorities have changed over time and how the current green stormwater management practices fit into this history. Second, some of the major “flavors” of green stormwater management are described to clarify terminology and practices used by the different groups. Finally, the paper concludes with a discussion of the similarities and differences between the discussed stormwater management options.