Arlington County, Va., Rain Garden Traps Pollutants and Educates Visitors
Powhatan Springs Park in Arlington, Va., is an example of an innovative rain garden design that combines bioretention with stormwater education. The children's rain garden exposes and animates the flow and collection of rainwater, while the soil media and wetland plants help remove sediments, nutrients, and other pollutants. The garden, combined with an underground cistern, has the capacity to hold 42 m3 (11,123 gal) of stormwater.
This is the second kickoff video for the Stormwater Call for Media, an effort to collect and share innovative stormwater projects through pictures and video. Check out videos already shared, and remember to like your favorites. Top picks will be shown at the 2012 Stormwater Symposium and at WEFTEC® 2012. Submissions are due June 30. Get the details.
Super Saver Rate Still Available for 2012 Stormwater Symposium
The 2012 Stormwater Symposium, hosted by the Water Environment Federation and Chesapeake Water Environment Association, will be held in Baltimore July 18 to 20. Be sure to register before the Super Saver rate closes June 13. Conference sessions will cover an array of stormwater topics from policy to cutting-edge research to innovative technologies. The New Stormwater Management Paradigm, a panel discussion, will involve several well-known professionals in the stormwater field.
Larry Coffman, president of Stormwater Services, recognized as an early leader in the development of Low Impact Development at Prince George's County, Md. will act as the moderator for this group. Panelists will include Lawrence Liebesman, partner at Holland & Knight, who represents multiple clients in the stormwater sector, particularly in the areas of stormwater funding and finance and Chris Kloss, green infrastructure coordinator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and an integral member of the team focusing on the current national stormwater rulemaking effort.
Opening general session participants will include Robert Traver, who is a leading researcher in the stormwater field and is the director of the Villanova Urban Stormwater Partnership, Kim Burgess (invited) who is chief of surface water management with City of Baltimore Public Works Department, and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (invited). Robert Summers, secretary of the environment with the Maryland Department of the Environment, who has been at the forefront of many of Maryland’s progressive stormwater programs, will provide input as a lunch keynote speaker along with a representative from the organization Green for All, which released a report last year focusing on green infrastructure and green jobs.
DC Water adopts Clean Rivers Fee To Fund Multibillion Dollar CSO Tunnel Project
DC Water has a plan to reduce combined sewer overflows (CSOs) by 96% in the District of Columbia. The Clean Rivers Project comprises the construction of three large storage tunnels to capture and store wet weather runoff. Though the project is federally mandated, funding had not been earmarked for the project.
As the process stands now, the 130,000-plus account holders served for the District of Columbia — including residential and wholesale suburban customers — will pay the vast majority of project costs, estimated at $2.6 billion through 2025. To help allocate cost as equitably as possible among its customers, DC Water developed a stormwater fee based on impervious areas. Read more in the May issue of WE&T.
Volunteers Needed for 2012 Stormwater Symposium
Conference leadership is looking for additional involvement at the 2012 Stormwater Symposium, including workshop room monitors on July 18 and session co-moderators for both July 19 and 20. Co-moderators help organize speakers before and during the session and help introduce speakers before each talk. For more information, please e-mail Jeff Cantwell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
U.S. EPA Launches Campus RainWorks Challenge
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently launched the Campus RainWorks Challenge, a green infrastructure design competition for student teams working under a faculty advisor. Registration opens Sept. 4, and entries are due Dec. 14. Student teams could win up to $2500 in cash prizes and up to $11,000 in research funds for their faculty advisor. Next year, EPA plans to expand the competition to include a demonstration component. Read more.
Tennessee Gives Municipalities Approval Authority for NPDES Construction Permits
On May 15, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam signed SB 3187, eliminating duplicate state- and local-level review of National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) construction permits by giving municipalities authority to approve. A pilot program is currently ongoing until the law takes effect July 1, 2013. To gain authority to run its own construction permitting program, a municipality must establish requirements that exceed those of the state. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation estimates that this streamlined process could save construction owners and operators up to $7500 in state fees. Read more.
Chesapeake Bay Commission Releases Nutrient Trading Cost Analysis
On May 3, the Chesapeake Bay Commission released Nutrient Credit Trading for the Chesapeake Bay: An Economic Study by RTI International. The study reports that nutrient trading could produce a potential cost savings of 20% to 80%, depending on implementation parameters. The highest cost savings reported are achieved through a watershed-wide program that allows urban stormwater systems to swap with farmers, as agricultural best management practices offer lower cost options. The report also recommends government-defined rules and enforcement, as well as technical assistance and information, in order to actually deliver on pollution reductions.
U.S. EPA Drops Flow-Based Surrogate From Missouri TMDL
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has agreed to drop a flow-based surrogate from the total maximum daily load (TMDL) for Hinkson Creek, Mo. This move indicates that EPA may drop this approach from future national policy plans. The settlement came after a lawsuit filed by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources; Boone County, Mo.; the City of Columbia, Mo.; and the University of Missouri. Read more about the original case.
Cases on Federal Payment of Stormwater Fees Could Lead to a Federal Court Split
The 2011 Clean Water Act (CWA) Amendment allows municipalities to leverage reasonable stormwater fees on federal facilities. In USA v. Cities of Renton and Vancouver, a Washington State District Court recently ruled that federal facilities are responsible for municipal stormwater fees billed prior to enactment of the 2011 amendment. This decision could create a split among federal courts, as the U.S. Department of Justice is arguing that stormwater fees do not apply retroactively in DeKalb County, Georgia v. USA. If the Georgia federal claims court rules that the federal government is not required to pay stormwater fees incurred prior to January 2011, the stage will be set for a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court.
U.S. EPA Will Not Require Stormwater Permits for Logging Roads
In the May 23 Federal Register, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a notice that logging roads will not require Clean Water Act permits. EPA plans to release a rule maintaining the precedent that best management practices are more practical than issuing permits for millions of miles of forest roads. This issue arose due to a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit stating that forest roads require National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits for stormwater runoff. The U.S. solicitor general has advised the U.S. Supreme Court to let the appeals court ruling stand. Forest industry representatives, however, fear that without decisive action by the Supreme Court, the issue will remain open to litigation.
A temporary ban on stormwater permitting for logging roads is currently in effect until Sept. 30, after which EPA hopes to have finalized a rule.
Cities Cite Stormwater as Primary Climate Change Concern
On May 16, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization released Doubled Trouble: More Midwestern Extreme Storms. According to the report, severe Midwestern rain storms — those totaling 75 mm (3 in.) or more in 1 day — have doubled in the last century. An earlier Water Environment Research Report states that annual precipitation associated with extreme events increased by 14% per decade from 1970 to 1999.
Many existing stormwater systems are not designed to handle more-intense rain events associated with climate change. In a recent survey of 468 cities, stormwater runoff was the climate change issue cities most anticipate addressing, according to a report by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in collaboration with ICLEI–Local Governments for Sustainability.
The Minnehaha Creek Watershed District is taking part in a 2-year study of Minnesota's changing weather funded by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The study will focus on adapting stormwater infrastructure to projected rainfall patterns in an already developed city, Minneapolis, and a developing city, Victoria.
Read more about how municipalities are becoming “climate-ready” by incorporating adaptation into scheduled maintenance and upgrades.
Sewage Dogs Sniff Out Stormwater Contamination
Milwaukee Riverkeeper is using sewage dogs to sniff out areas where water may be leaking from the sanitary sewer into the storm sewer. The dogs are trained to alert people if they smell fecal pollution. By identifying specific manholes with contamination, the dogs can help narrow the area of investigation.
Milwaukee River Keeper received a $4000 grant from Sweet Water Trust to test the effectiveness of the dogs’ sniffing skills. Volunteers pulled samples from the manholes that the dogs sniffed to verify the findings. The dogs came from Environmental Canine Services, a company that specializes in training dogs to detect illicit discharges.
Check It Out!
Retention ponds are designed to manage stormwater flow and trap pollutants. Because many collect a significant amount of nutrients, the ponds often grow algae on the surface of the water. This can create odor concerns and lead to low oxygen levels that do not support aquatic life. The floating wetlands are essentially buoyant mats that can be filled with plants. The plants help remove water through evapotranspiration and filter pollutants. They also provide habitat and help prevent ponds from developing low oxygen conditions. Read more.