March 28, 2022

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The Nature Conservancy Launches New Stormwater Heatmap

The five-year collaboration between The Nature Conservancy's Emily Howe (TNC) and Geosyntec's Christian Nilsen helps jurisdictions achieve more in a shorter timeframe to meet permit requirements, recover ecosystems, and adapt to climate change.

Geosyntec Consultants celebrates The Nature Conservancy's launch of the new Stormwater Heatmap, an interactive mapping tool, report generator, and data repository that quantitatively visualizes hotspots of pollution generation and runoff throughout Washington State's Puget Sound watershed.

"It can take cities up to a year to gather to compile and process the data for a watershed plan," said Christian Nilsen, a senior water resources engineer and Geosyntec's project manager for the effort. "What TNC is achieving here is a true common standard and platform for these jurisdictions to take quicker, collective action."

The Stormwater Heatmap's open-source platform allows jurisdictions free access to the best available data and science encompassing land cover, hydrology, and pollutant loading. Users can access 29 data layers across multiple scales, from large watersheds to local neighborhoods. Predictive modeling, powered by tools like Google's BigQuery, provides an unprecedented amount of spatial data, including predicted pollutant loads from hard-to-fund areas. Reports and high-resolution visuals can be downloaded and used for operations, public presentations, and grant-funding applications.

The Stormwater Heatmap was vetted by a scientific panel of experts, including representatives from the The Washington Stormwater Center at WSU-Puyallup, NOAA, and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Several Washington agencies are already using the stormwater heatmap for watershed planning and infrastructure investment decisions.

"It's free and platform neutral," Nilsen said. "Cities and counties are going to be able to analyze data and take action much faster."

The Nature Conservancy in Washington is dedicated to sustaining and enhancing a healthy relationship between people and nature. As part of the world's largest global conservation organization, they are uniquely positioned to deliver innovative solutions to the most pressing conservation needs and leverage them at a meaningful scale, assuring the quality of life for people and nature, in their state—and in the world.

More Information

Larn more about the Heatmap:
Learn more about TNC:
For consultation on how to use big data to meet permit requirements and prioritize projects, contact Christian Nilsen at