Stormwater, also spelled storm water, is water that originates from rain, including snow and ice melt. Stormwater can soak into the soil (infiltrate), be stored on the land surface in ponds and puddles, evaporate, or runoff. Most runoff is conveyed directly to nearby streams, rivers, or other water bodies (surface water) without treatment.
In natural landscapes, such as forests, soil absorbs much of the stormwater. Plants also reduce stormwater by improving infiltration, intercepting precipitation as it falls, and by taking up water through their roots. In developed environments, unmanaged stormwater can create two major issues: one related to the volume and timing of runoff (flooding) and the other related to potential contaminants the water is carrying (water pollution).
Stormwater is also an important resource as human population and demand for water grow, particularly in arid and drought-prone climates. Stormwater harvesting techniques and purification could potentially make some urban environments self-sustaining in terms of water.
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