Stormwater Financing and Outreach
Effectively managing stormwater is one of the greatest challenges faced by communities throughout the Chesapeake Bay region. Like all infrastructure, stormwater management systems, including low impact development practices, require long-term care and maintenance. As communities struggle to best allocate limited resources, stormwater management systems are frequently overlooked until an emergency occurs, costing millions in damages and repairs, or until a mandate forces a community to take action.
The issue of paying for stormwater, incorporating both gray and green infrastructure practices, looms even larger as Chesapeake Bay communities prepare to deal with Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) requirements and Watershed Implementation Plans. Although often an effective driver, unfortunately, these federal and state mandates are not always accompanied by the type of technical assistance, information, and resources needed to successfully guide the development and implementation of sustainable stormwater management plans.
The Stormwater Financing and Outreach Unit was created to address a community’s stormwater financing questions and help craft a strategy that best meets local needs.
Local Stormwater Financing and Capacity Project
In October 2011, the EFC was awarded a grant by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) to implement a stormwater financing technical assistance project in three urban communities across the region. While the overarching goal of this effort was to expand the ability of local governments to achieve water quality restoration goals through more efficient stormwater financing, the project focused on three primary objectives:
- To create a better understanding of both the costs and economic impacts associated with effective stormwater management in urban communities, specifically as they relate to pollution reductions associated with the Phase 2 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs);
- To demonstrate how water quality restoration activities can benefit and add value to other community priorities, thereby improving fiscal efficiencies; and,
- To demonstrate how effectively engaging the private sector in stormwater management programs can incentivize innovation, create efficiencies, and accelerate restoration activity across the community.
This two-year project—completed in the fall of 2013—was implemented in three phases:
- Phase 1: Assessing the economic and fiscal impacts associated with implementing stormwater management programs;
- Phase 2: Assessing the community capacity necessary to achieve aggressive urban water quality goals and requirements; and
- Phase 3: Developing recommendations for improving the effectiveness, efficiency, and expediency of the jurisdiction’s stormwater financing system.
The project focused on three urban communities located in the Chesapeake Basin: Baltimore, MD; Anne Arundel County, MD; and Lynchburg, VA.
Community Capacity Assessment and Recommendations. Final project reports were delivered to each of the communities in December of last year. These reports provided an assessment of the financing challenges within each community, the financing opportunities available for meeting those challenges, and the potential impact that investments in stormwater management will have on local job development.
Links to community reports:
Economic Impact Assessment. Phase 1 of this project included the application of an economic impact assessment associated with achieving aspirational stormwater management goals in the three pilot communities. Though achieving stormwater restoration goals will obviously come with fiscal costs to communities, these investments will be made within a complex economic system and thereby become part of the economic engine that drives and sustains our way of life. Economic impact assessments, enabled through the application of sophisticated models, provide local leaders with an understanding of the role that these types of investments will have on their communities, the jobs supported through the investments, and the industry sectors and skill sets necessary for supporting stormwater investment activities. These types of studies are important for developing and implementing strategies to ensure that achieving environmental goals and measurable outcomes can be done symbiotically with economic and community development.
Assessing Stormwater Management Costs
The attached document provides a final report summarizing a technical service project implemented by the Environmental Finance Center at the University of Maryland (EFC), in partnership with Main Street Economics, on behalf of the Calvert County, Maryland government. Through the support of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the EFC developed a strategy to improve the capacity of Calvert County to implement water quality restoration and protection projects and practices through the use of more flexible and sustainable financing processes.
EFC is working with the Chesapeake Bay Program Office to expand the capacity communities to advance their Watershed Implementation Plans.
The Environmental Finance Center at the University of Maryland is working with several communities in the region to revitalize their stormwater management and financing programs. Below is a list of EFC stormwater projects by state.
Take a look at the EFC's new Local Government Stormwater Financing Manual, which was inspired by and written for local government leaders.
EFC’s new Local Government Stormwater Financing Manual was inspired by and written for local government leaders. Public sector financing in general, and stormwater financing specifically often appear to be inaccessibly complicated and technical to even experienced public officials. Therefore, rather than try to address the myriad of issues associated with stormwater financing, our strategy was to provide a foundation for local officials to move forward by focusing on perhaps the most important financing attribute: leadership and the ability to move communities towards effective action. LGSFM