The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has initiated a national rulemaking process to establish a new program to reduce stormwater discharges from new development and as well as redevelopment. During this process, the EPA is expected to evaluate green infrastructure design techniques that mimic natural water processes, including approaches that infiltrate and recharge, evapotranspire, and harvest and reuse precipitation. Landscape architects are currently working with many communities to employ green infrastructure design techniques that address stormwater management and other water quality issues. To show the EPA how green infrastructure works, submit case studies about successful stormwater management projects. Demonstrate to the EPA that green infrastructure is a highly-effective and cost-efficient approach to improving the quality of the water supply.
Specifically, EPA’s new rulemaking process seeks to establish requirements to control stormwater discharges from new development and redevelopment; develop a single set of consistent stormwater requirements for all Municipal Separate Sanitary Sewer Systems (MS4s); require MS4s to address stormwater discharges in areas of existing development through retrofitting the sewer system or drainage area with improved stormwater control measures; and explore specific stormwater provisions to protect sensitive areas.
In 2006, EPA requested the National Research Council (NRC) to conduct a review of its stormwater program. In October 2008, NRC released its report Urban Stormwater Management in the United States (The National Academies Press, 2009), which found, among other things, that “the rapid conversion of land to urban and suburban areas has profoundly altered how water flows during and following storm events, putting higher volumes of water and more pollutants into the nation’s rivers, lakes, and estuaries. These changes have degraded water quality and habitat in virtually every urban stream system.” The report recommends a number of actions, including conserving natural areas, reducing hard surface cover (e.g., roads, parking lots, impervious surfaces), and retrofitting urban areas with features that hold and treat stormwater.
Throughout 2010, the EPA held a number of listening sessions across the country to hear views, ideas and input from various stakeholders. The EPA has also issued “Information Collection Requests” and other data collection questionnaires to gather information and assess what revisions are needed to its stormwater requirements. After reviewing and analyzing the data, EPA intends to issue a draft rule in September of 2011 and a final stormwater rule sometime in 2012.
Submit your green infrastructure case studies by March 31, 2011.
Image credit: ASLA 2010 Professional Honor Award. Seattle Green Factor, Seattle / City of Seattle Department of Planning and Development, Seattle.