The new regulations of the Stormwater Management Guidelines proposed by the state, currently in the public comment period, have raised some questions and concerns for the development community. After discussing this topic with several colleagues and engineers, I feel these guidelines can seriously affect local and state economic development and not solve the troubles with the Stormwater Runoff in the Chesapeake Bay as designed.
Mandating that urban develop set aside expensive, developable property to install BMP’s that meet the proposed thresholds will lead to urban sprawl, which localities and states have opposed, and effectively prohibit the construction of mixed use urban developments. Responsible urban development is intended to maximize development into small area, reducing vehicular traffic and the environmental concerns that accompany wide developed areas. Properly planned mixed use developments promote pedestrian traffic with a more intimate atmosphere for patrons to live and work.
An engineered stormwater system is complicated to install and maintain. Financing the maintenance of these systems is often among the first sacrifices of businesses in slow economic times. This can lead to larger and often more costly environmental problems in the future while forcing businesses to close or operate with limited capacity while the problem is corrected.
Agricultural practices across the state are a large contributor to sediment in rivers which lead to the Chesapeake Bay. Farms are not subject to the same stormwater regulations as the development community. While urban development has shown a large decrease in run off over the past 25 years, the agricultural sector has a significantly smaller decrease, (34.87% urban reduction per acre versus 9.29% agricultural reduction per acre since 1985) based on information obtained by Virginia Association of Home Builders.
I feel the Commonwealth already has a program in place that will help correct issues that affect the rivers and streams leading to the Bay. The state’s Water Quality Improvement Fund (WQIF) is used to construct and monitor agriculture BMP’s throughout the state. Unfortunately, the WQIF is underfunded and is not meeting the requirements that were proposed at its conception. Requiring contributions to the WQIF, instead of requiring developers to install BMP’s in urban areas, could encourage construction of BMP facilities for agricultural operations. This would help lower the contribution of pollutants and soil erosion into the rivers in areas where no protection is currently in place. This would also allow development to occur in populated areas and offset the stormwater run off that currently is unregulated.
Please contact me with any questions or review the attached presentation by the Virginia Association of Home Builders.
Thank you for your continued efforts in helping creating smart development that is environmentally conscious.