Chesapeake Bay. The local programs must
be in place by July 2014. Meanwhile, the
2013 legislature created a Stormwater Local
Assistance Fund with $35 million to help
localities implement their programs.
Virginia also is re-issuing new stormwater
permits for its larger urban areas. These are
the same type of permits required under the
federal Clean Water Act and designed to
reduce pollution running off streets, lawns,
and parking lots to help meet Chesapeake
Clean Water Blueprint goals.
The Commonwealth also is updating a
statewide permit to reduce runoff pollution
from active construction sites. Although
many of the permit requirements are good,
CBF strongly objects to a proposed provision that for the first time would shield
builders’ runoff pollution-reduction plans
from public scrutiny. The new permit is
expected to be completed in 2014.
Finally, Virginia is working on a revised permit to reduce polluted runoff from major
industrial sites. This permit is due to be
issued in 2014.
Limiting new polluted runoff from sprawlling
growth in Maryland’s rural areas is critical.
The state already has some of the toughest
rules in the country for minimizing stormwater from new development. The state also is
considering requiring builders to offset what
pollution they do add to local streams by
reducing pollution elsewhere.
But upgrading stormwater management systems at existing housing and commercial developments is equally important. Older development projects, in fact, have little or no systems
Maryland’s more populated counties and
municipalities already are required by federal
Clean Water Act permits to do some of those
upgrades, and the state is now rewriting the
permits to hold the jurisdictions to lower
pollution limits. But the work is expensive.
Stormwater: A Case Study in Creativity
The Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint requires each pollution sector
to do its fair share to meet the science-based pollution targets for the
Chesapeake Bay watershed set by EPA in 2010. All six watershed
states and the District of Columbia have committed to meeting those
targets, and—to varying degrees—each jurisdiction will rely on achieving some pollution reduction from stormwater.
Runoff from already existing streets, roofs, parking lots, and other nonporous surfaces presents a unique problem because it is widely dispersed, affecting almost all private and public property. Reducing this
runoff pollution is very expensive, mostly because managing and treating it properly is something that must be done now, after the fact. In
2011, the World Resources Institute estimated the cost of reducing
nitrogen pollution in stormwater from existing developed areas could
cost at least $200 per pound (compared to an estimated $1.50 per
pound for restoring wetlands or $3.20 per pound for planting vegetated shorelines).
The cost factor presents a real problem to communities. CBF and others have been working with many local governments to find creative
solutions that will reduce costs.
In March of this year, our friends at the James River Association, working with the Center for Watershed Protection, released a report entitled
Cost-Effectiveness Study of Urban Stormwater BMPs (Best
Management Practices) in the James River Basin. The report, available
at www.jamesriverassociation.org, uses the city of Richmond, Virginia,
as a case study to demonstrate
that stormwater-pollution reductions can be achieved far more
cost effectively than previously
thought. The study concluded
with three key findings:
1. Communities can cut the cost of reducing pollution from stormwater by as much as 85 percent if a suite of effective practices are
adopted. These practices include urban stream restoration, picking
up pet waste, and several other methods that focus on so-called
“green infrastructure” or more natural solutions.
2. Continuing research into conservation-practice efficiencies will likely bring the costs down even further.
3. In addition to reducing pollution from stormwater, these conservation practices have valuable community benefits, including neighborhood beautification and wildlife habitat protection.
CBF commends the James River Association and the Center for
Watershed Protection for their thoughtful and timely research. We urge
all CBF members and friends to read the report and to reach out to
their local officials to share it with them and to remind them that clean
Maryland is considering requiring builders to
offset pollution caused by rural sprawl.
For the past few years the state has given tens
of millions of dollars to local governments to
help them do the work. In 2012 the legislature also required the state’s nine most populated counties and Baltimore City to help
invest in pollution reduction by raising some
level of dedicated fee.
So far all the required jurisdictions except
Carroll and Frederick Counties have
approved some type of reasonable fee.
©2010 KRISTA SCHLYER/ILCP