Bonds incentivize local
governments to assault
runoff while reducing
Nature is subversive in the city. Tree
roots plot the upheaval of sidewalks.
Dandelions and crabgrass take root in
the smallest breaches.
CBF believes nature’s forces can help a
city. It is introducing an innovative type
of financing that local governments
throughout the watershed can use to
scale up green infrastructure, such as
planting street trees, rain gardens, and
Cities and suburbs in the Bay region
are required by law to reduce polluted
runoff, the only major source of
water pollution that’s growing. Hard
surfaces such as streets, sidewalks, and
rooftops create polluted runoff. Rain
runs off those surfaces and picks up
contaminants. Many cities and towns
have started installing more green
infrastructure to sop up and filter
But to make a real difference, and to
meet state requirements, urban areas
are going to have to significantly
increase the number of those projects.
Enter environmental impact bonds, or
EIBs. These special bonds incentivize
local governments to launch an all-out
assault on runoff because the bonds
reduce financial risk.
Baltimore is the first locality in
Maryland to seize the opportunity. On
March 26, the city and CBF announced
a partnership to use an EIB to fund 90
special landscaping projects in three
dozen neighborhoods. The work will
reduce polluted runoff and help beautify
neighborhoods that can use all the
green they can get.
The collaboration was announced
at a press conference in the Harlem
Park neighborhood of West Baltimore.
Pavement at the site will be torn up
and replaced with special landscaping.
Mayor Catherine E. Pugh said in a
statement she was proud the city was
“at the forefront of a creative, results-oriented approach” that will improve
CBF hired an expert, Quantified
Ventures, to help advise Baltimore as it
structures the innovative financing. The
company recently helped Washington,
D.C., issue an EIB to reduce runoff.
An anonymous donor, The Kresge
Foundation, and the Abell Foundation
are supporting CBF’s contracting with
Quantified Ventures (see page 19).
What makes EIBs different than
traditional bonds for capital projects?
Quantified Ventures CEO Eric Letsinger
says a growing group of investors
want to put their money into projects
that provide measurable benefits.
EIBs do just that. Baltimore’s bonds
will be repaid based on the tangible
success of the 90 landscaping projects
in meeting agreed-upon social or
That’s a win-win for the city as well as
the investors. If the projects don’t get
results as advertised, the city pays less.
If they work, the city pays interest, but it
also gets increased assurance that it will
meet state and federal requirements to
reduce polluted runoff.
So, Baltimore can innovate. It can
confidently expand green infrastructure
to improve neighborhoods, clean up the
Inner Harbor, and create jobs.
CBF is looking for other cities and
counties in the Chesapeake region who
want to abet nature’s counteroffensive
U To learn more about EIBs and to apply,
U The Maryland General Assembly
recently wrapped up its session. This
year, the legislature approved Governor
Hogan’s budget fully funding many
environmental programs. But lawmakers
did not support our effort to better
protect forests from development, or any
other major policies to accelerate the
cleanup of the Bay. To learn more, visit
Director Rudy Chow of Baltimore Department of Public Works speaks at the press
conference, as (l to r): Carolyn Dupont, Environment Director, Quantified Ventures;
Will Baker, CBF President; Troy Brogden, Finance Director, Baltimore Dept of Public
Works (DPW); Mark Cameron, Stormwater Program, Baltimore DPW; and Prakash Mistry,
Stormwater Program, Baltimore DPW look on.
SAVE THE BAY 21