The Water Research Foundation Releases CLASIC Tool for Stormwater Infrastructure Projects

Apr 26, 2021

Today, The Water Research Foundation (WRF) released the CLASIC tool, which utilizes a life cycle cost framework to support feasibility and planning of stormwater infrastructure. CLASIC helps stormwater professionals, community planners, and local decision-makers understand and weigh the estimated costs, reductions in runoff and pollutant loads, and co-benefits of various planning scenarios as they consider stormwater management projects. Register for an EPA webinar, scheduled for May 26, that will demonstrate the free CLASIC tool and provide answers to frequently asked questions.

“This is the culmination of a multi-year effort to stakeholders with powerful tools for comparing the costs and benefits of stormwater infrastructure alternatives,” said Dr. Peter Grevatt, CEO of The Water Research Foundation. "We are excited to release the CLASIC tool as we kick off Water Week and focus on water infrastructure as a national priority.”

“CLASIC allows decision-makers to compare scenarios which ultimately allows them to make better long-term decisions while becoming better informed of the range of possibilities for upgrading existing or installing new stormwater infrastructure,” said Benjamin Packard, Project Officer, Environmental Protection Agency.

The CLASIC tool is fully interfaced with GIS and links with national databases that can be applied at a community level. Users have the option to automatically upload data from national databases (e.g., census, national land cover database, PRISM climate database, digital elevation models, etc.) or to upload their own data sets. The tool allows users to build and compare multiple stormwater infrastructure options and enables simulation of various climate scenarios. Users can select from a variety of green and/or gray stormwater practices, like rain gardens, infiltration trenches, permeable pavement, green roofs, storage vaults, wet ponds, and stormwater harvesting.

The CLASIC tool allows users to prioritize specific social, environmental, and economic co-benefits, such as building energy efficiency, mental health impacts, or groundwater flow increase. Users can also set targets for variables like pollutant reduction, runoff reduction, or cost. The CLASIC outputs are displayed in an immersive set of charts, graphs, and tables that can be analyzed, printed, and shared.

The creation of this tool was funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Office of Research and Development (ORD) through the grant opportunity “National Priorities: Life Cycle Costs of Water Infrastructure Alternatives” (EPA Grant Number: R836173). Additional information about the project is available through the EPA.

Project contributors and design team members include representatives from The Water Research Foundation, Geosyntec Consultants, One Water Solutions Institute, Water Environment Federation, Wichita State University Environmental Finance Center, Wright Water Engineers Inc., University of Maryland Environmental Finance Center, University of Utah, and representatives from communities across the United States that provided guidance, user input, and beta testing to support the creation of the CLASIC tool.

If you have any questions about the CLASIC tool, please contact Harry Zhang, WRF Research Program Manager.

About WRF

The Water Research Foundation (WRF) is the world’s leading research organization advancing the science of all water to meet the evolving needs of its subscribers and the water sector. WRF is a nonprofit, educational organization that funds, manages, and publishes research on the technology, operation, and management of drinking water, wastewater, reuse, and stormwater systems—all in pursuit of ensuring water quality and improving water services to the public.